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    Key to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates in Utah - Hemiptera

    Water Bugs

    The Hemiptera Order are "true bugs".  The name comes from Hemi meaning "half" and ptera meaning "wing".  The wings of Hemipterans are either entirely membranous or partially hardened (the name comes from the organisms with partially hardened wings).  Insects in this order have a specialized mouth part called a proboscis or rostrum which is used to pierce tissue (mostly plant tissue, however some members of this order are predators). 


    Belostomatidae (toe biters, giant water bugs)

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    DescriptionBelostomatidae have large, raptorial front legs and slender, elongated hind legs. Their bodies are flattened and have strap-like respiratory appendages. Length 2-12 cm.

    HabitatOccur in weedy ponds, and slow moving water such as beaver ponds.  They are fierce predators. 

    Corixidae (water boatmen)

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    DescriptionCorixidae have oar-like hind legs and a scoop like tarsi on their front legs. They have dark brown or black striations on their wings. Length 3-12 mm.

    HabitatIn still, slow moving fresh water. They are excellent swimmers.

    Gelastrocoridae (toad bugs)

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    DescriptionGelastrocoridae have a distinct toad-like look, protruding eyes, short antennae, raptorial short fore legs, and mottled color pattern. Length 5-10 mm.

    HabitatFound in southern Utah in riparian and aquatic vegetation, mud, or sand.

    Gerridae (water skaters, water striders)

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    DescriptionGerridae have short front legs and elongate middle and hind legs.  The femur of the hind legs extends beyond the abdomen. Their bodies are dark colored. Length 3-10 mm.

    HabitatIn still, slow moving fresh water, often found on top of the water.

    Hydrometridae (marsh treaders, water measurers)

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    DecsriptionHydrometridae have greyish or pale brown, bodies, the head and legs are long and slender, eyes are located behind the middle of the head. Length 8-11 mm.

    HabitatFound in still water along the edges on vegetation. 

    Naucoridae (creeping water bugs)

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    DescriptionNaucoridae have flattened, dark colored bodies that appear oval from above. The forelegs are raptorial with an enlarged femora and single claw. Length 6-15 mm.

    HabitatFound in slow moving water, typically hot springs and desert pools.

    Nepidae (water scorpions)

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    DescriptionNepidae have raptorial forelegs and a long slender respiratory tube at posterior end. Their bodies may be fat and squat or long and slender. Length 15-50 mm.

    HabitatFound in ponds, typically in northern Utah.

    Notonectidae (backswimmers)

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    DescriptionNotonectidae have oar-like hind legs without claws and a cylindrical body shape, often with ivory white color on body. Length 8.5-16 mm.

    HabitatIn slow moving water and ponds. They swim ventral side up.

    Veliidae (broad shouldered water striders)

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    DescriptionVeliidae has a small, broad thorax. They are similar to Gerridae, but the hind femur does not extend beyond the abdomen. Length 2-10 mm.

    Habitat: Commonly found in slow moving waters, but can be found in rivers and streams, too. Typically found on the water surface.

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