Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Hemiptera

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L. Watson and M. J. Dallwitz


Pond Skaters, Wherrymen, Water Striders.

Salient features of adults. Dwelling (skating) on the surface of water.

Predacious, or feeding on dead arthropods (on living or dead arthropods). Small to large; 6–18 mm long; fliers, or non-fliers; probably emitting repugnatorial liquid as a defence reaction; with narrow-elongate bodies; conspicuously stilt-legged. Head non-linear. Rostrum clearly separated ventrally from the prosternum by a sclerotized gula; 4 segmented. Antennae longer than the head, readily visible from above; 4 segmented; non-aristate. Metathorax without laterally visible scent gland openings (but with a single, simpler, median opening on the sternum). Fore-wings well developed to vestigial or absent; in the resting insect lying more or less flat over the abdomen; when macropterous, more or less uniform in texture. Hind coxae mobile; rotatory. Tarsi 2 segmented. Claws of fore-legs inserted short of the tip of the terminal segment. The abdomen covered ventrally with dense, silvery pubescence. The second visible abdominal sternite with a long, spine-like, forwardly directed anterior process.

Middle legs inserted much closer to the hind-legs than to the fore-legs.

Taxonomy. Suborder Heteroptera; Gerroidea.

British representation. 9 species in Britain; genera 3. Aquarius, Gerris, Limnoporus. E.g., Gerris ‘apicalis’ Curtis (Black-tipped Underwing Pond-skater).

Illustrations. • Gerris apicalis Curtis (Black-tipped Underwing Pond-skater), = ? : B. Ent. 553). • Gerris apicalis (detail: B. Ent. 553). • Gerris apicalis (dissections: B. Ent. 553). • Gerris apicalis: legend+text: B. Ent. 553. • Gerris apicalis (text: B. Ent. 553, cont.). • Gerris odontogaster, with assorted other water bugs. • Aquarius, Gerris (5 spp.) and Limnoporus, with Velia and Reduviidae: Saunders XIV (1892)..

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Cite this publication as: ‘Watson, L., and Dallwitz, M.J. 2003 onwards. Insects of Britain and Ireland: the families of Hemiptera. Version: 16th May 2016.’.