Striders are a common sight on ponds, quiet pools in streams, and even in Missoula canals. These true bugs (order Hemiptera) are predators and highly specialized for life on the water’s surface. Forelegs grasp insects struggling in the surface film, middle legs row, and hindlegs steer. Their ability to stay afloat may seem like magic, but these feather-light bugs exploit surface tension, evenly distribute their weight with their long legs, and repel water and capture air with thousands of specialized hairs on their legs and body.
Photo by Kathleen Mackey on 4/9/20 in Owl Creek, flowing out of Placid Lake, MT.