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Water spiders: characteristics and species

Water spiders: characteristics and species


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When it comes towater spiderswe can refer to different species, to identify them we will use images. The truewater spideris represented by the species Argyroneta aquatica, however, some insects of the Rincoti family (the gerrids) are improperly calledwater spiders.

Water spiders: differences between insects that glide on water and the real water spider (Arguroneta aquatica). Features and things to know.

Water spiders or skating insects

They are called Gerrids, skating insects or ... more vulgarly,water spiders. They are heteroptera insects thatslipon the water resting only the tarsi of the middle and hind legs, without ever sinking. These insects have nothing to do with the real onesspiders(which are Arachnids).

The gerrids are carnivorous predators, feeding mainly on small animals, alive or dead. If an unfortunate bee is drowning in a pool of water, there is no doubt that a skater insect can feed on it!

They feed on whatever they can find on the surface of the water: mosquito larvae, various hymenoptera, other small insects, molluscs ... if there are no other insects to prey on, they resort to cannibalism by eating the weakest specimens of the same species.

Depending on the species, these insects can be from 2 to 20 mm long. Among the most common species in our waters, we point out the Gerris lacustris.

In the image below, a group of skating insects on the surface of a cool and calm stretch of water, an ideal habitat.

This insect populates pools of water, dams, lakes ... any body of water not bothered by the wind. In spring it is common to spot a male and a female intent on mating while swimming one on top of the other.

Water spider or diver spider

Thewater spideror diver spider is aspiderof the Cybaeidae family. Its life cycle is very fascinating as this spider lives underwater.

The water spider, to live underwater, covers itself with a layer of air, so when you observe it underwater it appears silver. On the contrary, on the surface, it is velvet-gray. THEaquatic spidersthey can reach a size of 15 mm.

Thewater spideranatomically, it does not have any particular systems that allow it to breathe in water. Breathe air just like othersarachnids. Having to breathe underwater, thediver spidercreates his underwater canvas in the shape of a countryside and fixes it on a plant. Using the hairs on the abdomen, it transfers small bubbles of air from the surface to its lair. The air bubbles, a few at a time, form an air bell where thespidercan live.

The spider lives in its air bell where it patiently waits for its prey to pass. What does it feed on? Thewater spiderit eats any small invertebrate that "unfortunately" finds itself in its lair. In particular, it eats small aquatic invertebrates such as gnat larvae, aquatic mites and mayflies in the nymphal stage.

The water spider (scientific name Argyroneta aquatica)it lives in fresh and clean water, rich in aquatic vegetation. It can be found in ponds, lakes, canals, swamps, slow-flowing rivers, dams ... any body of fresh water, calm and rich in vegetation.

It can be found in continental Europe, on the British Isles, in Asia ... even if a particular subspecies named Agruroneta aquatica japonica lives in Japan.

In the photo at the top of the page, the diver spider (aquatic spider par excellence). In the photo below, the pirate spider, an aquatic spider that lives near the water but does not create any air bubbles to live immersed.

Other water spiders

The scientific name of thewater spideris Argyroneta aquaticahowever there are manyspiderswhich have a behavior related to the aquatic environment. These spiders are called "semi-aquatic" and live near pools of water or spend little time immersed. For example, some Desis species at high tide immerse themselves completely in the water by living in specially created underwater shelters. Other spiders can live underwater for a long time, entering a sort of comatose state (the species Arctosa fulvolineata survives for 36 hours in water).

Some species live above the body of water and are therefore generally calledwater spiders.Water spiders, at this juncture, are some species of the genera:

  • Ancylometes
  • Dolomedes
  • Magadolomedes
  • Pardosa
  • Pirate
  • Thalassius

Theseaquatic spidersthey live on the water surface and can dive for a limited period. They are excellent swimmers and capture prey underwater.


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