Aptly named, backswimmers swim upside down, propelled by long oarlike legs fringed with hair (setae). Their pale uppersides and dark undersides make them difficult to see as they swim. Their light-colored back, seen from below, blends into the water surface and sky. The rest of the body is darker and, when seen from above, blends with the bottom of the pond or lake in which it lives. Backswimmers prey on aquatic invertebrates, insects caught on the surface, and even small fish or tadpoles. Like other true bugs, they have piercing / sucking mouthparts and can reportedly give a painful bite if mishandled.
Along with this photo, Tracy provided an interesting observation. The featured backswimmer and others of its kind were all over the roof of Tracy’s shed. “They’d hit hard, bounce, then fly off! It was loud!” We’re not sure if they were attracted to lights, mistook the shed’s roof for water and came for a splash down, or something else. Hopefully they flew to a nearby body of water …they are known to move poorly on land.
Photo by Tracy Younger on 9/22/20 in Great Falls, MT