12 Insects that Live in Water

Insects that Live in Water
Photo by Syed Ali on Unsplash

Insects that live in water are a fascinating part of the natural world.

Many species of insects, such as dragonflies, water striders, and mayflies, have adapted to survive in aquatic environments.

These aquatic insects play an important role in the food web and contribute to the health of local ecosystems.

In this blog post, we’ll explore the unique adaptations and behaviors of 12 insects that live in water.

1. Backswimmer

by Judy Gallagher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

One of the many insects that live in water is the backswimmer. These little bugs can swim upside-down in ponds, lakes, and swimming pools.

They have a distinct look with their flat backs and oar-like legs that they use to move through the water. 

Backswimmers are predators and feed on other insects and small aquatic animals. They use their sharp beaks to pierce their prey and suck out the contents.

They are also known to eat mosquito larvae, making them a natural pest control option. 

If you ever encounter a backswimmer, beware; they can give a painful bite if they feel threatened. It’s best to leave them alone and admire them from a safe distance.

Overall, backswimmers are just one fascinating example of the many diverse insects that live in water.

2. Caddisfly Larvae

Caddisfly Larvae
by Kilarin is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another insect that lives in water is the caddisfly larvae.

These larvae are commonly found in freshwater bodies, such as rivers and streams, and are an important food source for many fish species.

Caddisfly larvae are identifiable by their elongated bodies covered in a hard shell.

This shell comprises various materials such as twigs, pebbles, and sand that the larvae collect and glue together using the silk they produce.

This shell serves as protection from predators and a way to blend into its surroundings.

These larvae are not only interesting to look at but are also fascinating in their behavior. They can create a protective net around themselves, which helps them filter food out of the water.

Additionally, they can spin silk into a web-like structure, which they use to anchor themselves in place in fast-moving water.

As they grow and develop, caddisfly larvae eventually transform into adult caddisflies.

These adult insects have a short lifespan and are known for their short but intense mating rituals, during which males compete fiercely for the attention of females.

Caddisfly larvae are an important and fascinating part of the aquatic ecosystem.

Their unique adaptations and behaviors make them a valuable and intriguing subject for scientists and nature enthusiasts.

3. Water Boatmen

Water Boatmen
by Wildreturn is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another fascinating group of insects that live in water is the Water Boatmen. These aquatic bugs belong to the family Corixidae and are also commonly known as Pond Skaters.

You can find them in a wide range of aquatic habitats, including freshwater ponds, streams, and rivers.

Water Boatmen have flattened body shapes and elongated legs that allow them to move across the water’s surface.

They have two pairs of wings, with the front wings being hardened and used as protective covers for the hind wings.

Water Boatmen use their front legs to row through the water, while their hind legs are adapted for swimming.

One of the most interesting aspects of Water Boatmen is their ability to breathe underwater.

They have a specialized structure known as a respiratory siphon, which they use to extract oxygen from the water. This allows them to remain submerged for long periods.

Water Boatmen are also predators, feeding on various smaller aquatic organisms such as insect larvae and small fish.

They use their sharp, beak-like mouthparts to puncture and suck out their prey’s body fluids.

Overall, Water Boatmen are fascinating insects that live in water and play an important role in freshwater ecosystems.

Their unique adaptations and predatory habits make them a key part of the aquatic food chain.

4. Water Bug

Water Bug
by DaveHuth is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Water bugs, also known as giant water bugs, are large insects found in bodies of freshwater such as lakes, ponds, and rivers.

They are part of the Hemiptera order of insects and have a unique way of capturing their prey.

Water bugs are predators that use their long front legs to capture their prey. They can consume insects, tadpoles, and even small fish.

Water bugs are also known for their painful bite, which they use to defend themselves.

One of the most interesting facts about water bugs is that they can stay underwater for up to an hour thanks to their ability to trap air under their wings.

They use this air bubble to breathe while they are hunting underwater.

Despite their size, water bugs are very fast swimmers and can move quickly to catch their prey.

They are also skilled at hiding in the water, using their camouflage to blend in with their surroundings.

Water bugs are an important part of the aquatic ecosystem and are vital in maintaining a balance between different species.

They also act as a food source for many animals, such as fish and birds.

5. Damselfly Larvae

Damselfly Larvae
by Rolf Dietrich Brecher is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another fascinating insect that lives in water is the damselfly larvae. These larvae are in freshwater habitats like ponds, streams, and marshes.

Like other insects that live in water, damselfly larvae have adapted to their aquatic environment in various ways.

One unique feature of damselfly larvae is their gills, which are at the tip of their abdomen.

These gills enable them to breathe underwater, allowing them to stay submerged for extended periods.

They also have a flattened body shape, which helps them to move efficiently through the water.

As they grow, damselfly larvae undergo several molts, shedding their skin to reveal a larger, more developed body. During this time, they are also able to regenerate limbs if they are lost.

Once they reach maturity, damselflies leave the water and transform into their adult form. They have a striking appearance with delicate wings and slender bodies.

They are also adept flyers, capable of hovering and darting around in the air.

Overall, damselfly larvae are fascinating insects that live in water and play an essential role in freshwater ecosystems.

They are an important food source for many aquatic animals and can help control mosquito populations.

If you ever have the chance to observe them in their natural habitat, take the opportunity to witness their unique adaptations and behavior.

6. Water Strider

Water striders are fascinating insects that live in water. They have long, slender legs that allow them to glide effortlessly across the surface of the water.

They are often mistaken for spiders due to their appearance and movement, but they are a type of insect. Water striders are also known as pond skaters or water skippers.

One of the most remarkable things about water striders is that they can stand on water without breaking the surface tension.

This is due to the fine hairs on their legs, which trap air and create a buoyancy that keeps them afloat. This adaptation allows them to hunt for food on the water’s surface without getting wet.

Water striders are predators and feed on other insects that fall onto the surface of the water. They have powerful front legs to grab and hold their prey.

Water striders are also preyed upon by birds and other aquatic animals.

In addition to their unique ability to walk on water, water striders are remarkable for their mating habits.

During courtship, the male strider will drum his front legs on the water’s surface to attract the female. If she is receptive, they will mate on the surface of the water as well.

Overall, water striders are fascinating insects that have adapted to life on the surface of the water in remarkable ways.

If you ever get to observe them in the wild, take a moment to marvel at their grace and ingenuity.

7. Stonefly Larvae

Stonefly Larvae
by brian.gratwicke is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Stonefly larvae are one of the most fascinating insects that live in water. These larvae belong to the order Plecoptera and are common in cold, clear water.

They got their name after their hard exoskeleton, which resembles a stone. The larvae undergo several stages of development before they reach adulthood. 

During the larval stage, stoneflies live underwater and feed on algae and other small aquatic organisms.

They are also known to feed on larger insects and small fish. They have six legs, two long antennae, and two tails. These features help them to navigate underwater and hunt for their prey. 

Stonefly larvae are an essential part of the aquatic food chain. They are an important source of food for fish and other aquatic organisms.

They also play a crucial role in maintaining the balance of the ecosystem by controlling the population of other insects and aquatic organisms.

The stonefly larvae are the bioindicators of water quality. They are highly sensitive to pollutants, and their presence or absence can indicate the health of the water body.

The presence of stonefly larvae indicates that the water is of good quality and can support a healthy aquatic ecosystem.

8. Dragonfly Larvae

Dragonfly Larvae
by S. Rae is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Dragonfly larvae, known as naiads, are among the most interesting insects in the water.

These creatures are often called “underwater dragons” because of their fierce appearance and predatory nature.

They have a long, slender body that can grow up to three inches long. The body is segmented and covered with tiny hairs, giving them a unique and distinctive look. 

Dragonfly larvae are excellent predators and feed on a wide range of aquatic animals, including other insects, tadpoles, and small fish.

They have a special upper lip called the labrum, which can shoot out like a harpoon to capture their prey. Once caught, the larvae will use their mandibles to crush and eat it. 

Dragonfly larvae are not only fascinating to watch, but they also play an important role in maintaining the ecological balance of aquatic ecosystems.

They help control other insect populations and keep the food chain in check. 

After spending months or even years as larvae, dragonflies will emerge from the water as adults. This is an incredible transformation that is known as metamorphosis.

Once they become adults, they will mate, lay eggs, and start the life cycle all over again.

9. Mayfly Larvae

Mayflies are a popular insect found near water sources. Their larvae, commonly called nymphs, are aquatic insects that live in freshwater streams, rivers, and lakes.

They are known to be a vital food source for many fish and other aquatic animals.

Mayfly nymphs have a cylindrical body with two to three tails that aid their swimming ability. They also have large eyes and six legs that they use to crawl around in the water.

Mayfly nymphs prefer to live in cool and well-oxygenated water, usually under rocks or submerged plants.

Mayfly nymphs undergo several molting stages during their time in the water before emerging as adult mayflies.

Their molting process usually takes up to a year, and their diet consists of small aquatic organisms and algae.

Mayfly nymphs are important indicators of water quality as they are sensitive to environmental changes. Therefore, their presence in a water source indicates healthy water quality.

The nymphs play a significant role in freshwater ecosystems, making them an essential part of our natural world.

10. Fishing Spiders

While most people associate spiders with land-based habitats, there are several spider species that live in water. One such species is the fishing spider.

As their name suggests, fishing spiders are skilled at catching prey in the water.

These spiders are often on the surface of streams, rivers, and ponds. They use the water tension to stay afloat and wait patiently for prey to come near.

Once a suitable target is detected, fishing spiders pounce and grab the prey with their powerful front legs.

Fishing spiders have an advantage over other spiders that live in water, as they can swim and walk on the surface of the water.

This means they can cover a larger area in their search for food. They also have special hairs on their legs and body that repel water and help them stay dry.

Despite their size, fishing spiders are not dangerous to humans. They are not aggressive and will generally only bite if provoked or threatened.

In fact, they can be beneficial to have around as they help control populations of insects that live in the water.

So, the next time you’re near a body of water, watch for these fascinating creatures. You may be lucky enough to spot a fishing spider on the hunt.

11. Mosquitoes

by RamónP is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Mosquitoes are notorious for being a nuisance to humans but also play an important role in the aquatic ecosystem.

Mosquito larvae live in water for about a week before transforming into adult mosquitoes that fly away. The larvae feed on algae and bacteria in the water, helping to keep it clean.

However, adult mosquitoes can also spread diseases to humans and other animals, making them a concern for public health.

Mosquito-borne illnesses such as West Nile, malaria, and Zika can seriously affect those infected.

Controlling mosquito populations in bodies of water is important for both ecological and health reasons.

Measures such as reducing standing water, using mosquito nets and repellent, and implementing mosquito control programs can help reduce the risk of mosquito-borne illnesses.

Despite their pesky reputation, mosquitoes still have a role in the ecosystem and should be respected for their contributions.

12. Whirligig Beetles

Whirligig Beetles
by Wildreturn is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another type of insect that lives in water is the whirligig beetle. These small black beetles often swim in circles on the surface of ponds and streams.

They have a unique way of moving, using their middle and hind legs to paddle through the water while their front legs act as oars to steer. 

Whirligig beetles are social insects and often form large groups called rafts. They use their unique behavior of circling on the water to avoid predators.

When a predator approaches, the beetles will split apart, confusing the predator with their chaotic movements. 

These insects have a varied diet, feeding on both plants and small animals. They use their powerful mandibles to crush their prey before consuming them. 

Overall, whirligig beetles are fascinating insects that are an important part of the aquatic ecosystem.

They serve as both predator and prey and contribute to the balance of the water environment.

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