Politicians and Pond Skaters

Water Strider

Water Strider Feeds On a Dragonfly

Usually, when a pundit compares a politician to an insect, flattery is not intended. The NYTimes David Brooks writes about “a political pond skater — one of those little creatures that flit across the surface, sort of fascinating to watch, but have little effect as they go.”

Pond skaters, aka, Water Striders (Family Gerridae) are true bugs adapted to life on the water surface. Water striders have hairs on the tips of their legs that repel water (like Teflon). The weight of the water strider forms a meniscus in the water that is held in place by the hydrophobic leg hairs. Water striders can push against the meniscus to row on the water with their legs.

Water Striders are opportunistic predators. In the image above, a water strider is feeding on a dragonfly that has fallen into the water and is no longer able to fly. The water strider is injecting the dragonfly with saliva that will digest the inner tissues of the dragonfly within its outer cuticle. The water strider uses its beak to suck the fluid from the dragonfly. Water striders will attack any animal small enough to catch and eat including small fish. The casual glance of a human may regard them as inconsequential, but their prey feels the full effect of the water strider.

Pond skaters are also known as “Jesus bugs because they walk on water. Water striders are buoyant, supported by the surface tension of the water. The surface tension of water can be modified by adding a detergent to the water. At sufficient detergent concentration, the water surface tension is insufficient to support the water strider and the water strider will sink and drown.

About jjneal

Jonathan Neal is an Associate Professor of Entomology at Purdue University and author of the textbook, Living With Insects (2010). This blog is a forum to communicate about the intersection of insects with people and policy. This is a personal blog. The opinions and materials posted here are those of the author and are in no way connected with those of my employer.
This entry was posted in behavior, by jjneal, Environment, Insect Inspired, News. Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Politicians and Pond Skaters

  1. Pingback: Politicians and Pond Skaters – Entomo Planet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s