Friday, April 3, 2015

Raining Waterscorpions

Nepidae, Ranatra

Last week someone backed into my car at a stop sign and put their trailer hitch through my bumper. This week it's being repaired so I have a rental car. Today I noticed what at first glance looked like mantids on the windshield of the rental.

Edging closer, I realized excitedly these were not mantids (though let's face it, I would have been excited to find mantids) but waterscorpions! Aquatic hemiptera! Unfortunately the poor things fried to a crisp on the car. I've heard theories that perhaps when they (aquatic hemiptera) take flight to find a better pond or breeding grounds, the reflection of a car window can confuse them. Thinking it's water, they crash land, stun themselves, and bake in the sun. Ordinarily my car is covered in a thick veneer of dust from the dirt road I live off of, unlike this shiny rental, presumably saving the creatures from such a fate (what I'm doing here is justifying never washing my car). 

There were five in total.

The cerci ('tail') form a long breathing tube
The front legs are adapted for grasping prey similar to mantids. The very short beak can give a painful bite.

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