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Water Striders- What are they good for, what do they do, should I avoid them?

While relaxing with your family this summer, you might take a leisurely walk along a stream or pond. If you look at the surface of the water, you may see something familiar. All across the surface, you will see little six legged insects walking on water. Water striders move across ponds with all the grace of a figure skater and the determination of a hockey player. If you have ever wondered about water striders, here is everything you ever wanted to know about them, brought to you by Green Pest Control.

What are they good for?

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Water striders are related to squash bugs and assassin bugs. They eat other insects. They come equipped with a needle like mouth, called a rostrum, that they use to puncture meals and drink them dry. Now if you already hate insects, the idea of one insect eating another isn’t going to make you like either one any better. You might change your mind with the water strider. Water striders love to eat mosquito larvae. If an adult mosquito falls into the water, water striders will eat them too. If it weren’t for water striders you would have hundreds more mosquitoes buzzing around you. Knowing that water striders eat mosquitos is enough to make anyone appreciate them.

What do they do?

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Water striders walk on water. Each leg is covered with tiny hairs. If you are crouched down near the edge of a pond trying to get a close up of a water striders legs, you will never see the hairs, they are microscopic. All of those tiny hairs trap air bubbles and enable to water skipper to glide across the water surface. They can carry up to 15 times their own weight before sinking. Water striders might eat mosquitoes and larvae, but they also eat any other insect that falls onto the surface of the water. Dead or alive, water stiders will eat spiders, grasshoppers, worms, you name it. If they get hungry enough, they will even eat each other. When it gets cold, adult water striders will climb into hollow stems and hibernate. Once spring hits, they will be back on the water.

Should you avoid them?

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Knowing that they have a needle like mouth, might make you never want to go swimming, yet there is nothing you need to fear about a water striders. They will not bite you, even if you get one tangled in your hair. If you have hundreds of water striders gliding across the surface of your swimming pool, you might want them eliminated for aesthetics. If there are only a few, you can kill them and throw them out. If there are hundreds, you will need to take away their food source. Water striders eat other insects, if you keep your pool clean, you won’t have to worry about sharing your swim time. Next time you are walking along a pool or river and you see water striders, you can smile knowing that they are doing their part to reduce mosquitoes.