Water-repellant hairs on the hind and middle legs allow these nimble insects to skate on the surface of the water. Velvety hairs on their bodies allow them to stay dry though they spend all their time on water.
There are several species of water striders in North America. The most common and conspicuous one in our area is the large water strider (Aquarius remigis, also called Gerris remigis). It has an elongated body and is dark brown or blackish on the top and bottom, with a whitish or silvery stripe along each side. The legs are long and thin and are generally spread far apart; the hind and middle pairs of legs are used for “skating” across the water surface. Adults usually lack wings.
Sometimes the first thing you notice are the small round shadows they create on the substrate beneath them, caused by the small dimples their feet make on the surface film of the water.
Water striders in the genus Gerris are smaller, less than ½ inch long.