Notonecta species - Backswimmer or Greater Waterboatman

Phylum: Arthropoda - Class: Insecta - Order: Hemiptera - Family: Corixidae

Notonecta glauca, Backswimmer or Greater Waterboatman

Unlike the various kinds of Lesser Waterboatman, Corixa species, members of the Notonecta genus swim along the surface on their backs, using their hair-fringed long hindlegs, and they can dive to capture and feed upon smaller creatures. The common name Backswimmer is therefore both descriptive and an aid to identification. These insects are typically 1.3 to 1.6cm in length. (Females are slightly larger than males.) Be carefull if you handle these insects, because they can give fingers a very painful nip.

Notonecta glauca, Backswimmer or Greater Waterboatman, top view


Still or slow-flowing water, or quiet backwaters on faster streams and rivers, are the preferred habitat of this carnivorous water bug.

In Britain and Ireland there are four species in the Notonecta genus; all are commonly referred to as Backswimmers. Separation of these species is fairly straightforward based upon the colour and patterning of the elytra (the wing covers).

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