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Mating Water striders, Gerris spec.
Gerris species, young Water strider larva Water striders, mating
WATER STRIDERS IN THE SUMMER, the time when they are very busy, on the first mild days the males are already continuously hunting the females. Often they claim a territory, from which other males are chased away. Some males do not hold territory but just stay around and wait for a good opportunity to get a female. And there are days that all males operate without a territory. Of course much research is done on these habits. The males lure the females by generating vibrations in the water surface, which are detected with the legs. The Water strider male is a real "draufgänger": with a jump he lands on the back of the female, which resists heavily against this sexual harassment and tries to shake the rapist off by jumping and turning on her back like a wild mare. Why she does this? Maybe to allow only the strong males to mate - as part of the "survival of the fittest". The males of some species have a little help from there antennae which are reformed to hooks to get a good grip on the female.
Water strider, young larva
Gerris species, young Water strider larva Water strider, young larva

Gerris species, young Water strider larva
Gerris species, young Water strider larva A somewhat older larva
On the web you can find a beautiful picture of a struggling pair of Water striders with an article on this subject, see the link at the bottom of this page. When the female gives in, the mating can start as on the picture on the left. The male is carried by the larger female, often for hours. The eggs are glued to plants and branches on the border. Some species crawl under water for this! When the eggs hatch the surface is crawling with very tiny larva, that sit on the water like a flock of little spiders. They seem to exist only of two crossed tiny wires. This image is caused by the abdomen, which is amazingly shortened in the early instars of the larva, it almost seems as if the animal has just a head and thorax, as can be seen on the picture on the right. The larva mold a few times and then the abdomen grows more elongated again, as can be seen on the picture under left. The growing wings reflect the sunlight, they seem to have a silvery coating.
Gerris species, Water strider, larva
Gerris species, young Water strider larva Water strider, a somewhat older larva
We are writing larva here, but bugs have an incomplete metamorphosis and so the young animals strongly resemble the adults. After five instars the larva have turned into adult Water striders. At the end of the summer no larva can be found.
Water strider
enlarge A detail picture here
of the top side of a larva.

WEBLINKS:
Article: "battle of the sexes" with a nice photo of wrestling Water striders.



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COPYRIGHT:
All pictures on this site were made by Gerard Visser (Almelo, Netherlands), unless stated otherwise. All rights remain with him. These pictures may not be used for purposes any other than private viewing or printing. Do NOT hardlink to these pictures or place them on other websites without the author's approval. Should you need them for purposes which include third parties, you must ask the author permission by e-mail. People, who want to use this pictures for exhibitions or publications or educative material are much encouraged to do so, after approval as mentioned and giving the normal credits.
© G.H. Visser 31-01-2007

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