Water Boatmen


Water boatmen are superficially similar to back swimmers but always swim right side up and differ in many anatomical details: the body is cylindrical or slightly flattened, the mouthparts are short, cone shaped, and unsegmented, and the male genitalia are asymmetrical. The fore wings are often marked with fine, transverse zigzagging dark lines. The tarsus of the foreleg is composed of a single broad, hairy segment. They vary considerably in size (BL 3-10 mm).'

These water bugs choose habitats like the back swimmers, although they tend to prefer more stagnant or torpid waters where they spend most of their time at the bottom. Some, such as Trichocorixa reticulata (fig. 8.5c), tolerate saline conditions and may be extremely abundant in inland salt pools or estuaries on the continent and in the Galápagos Islands.

Corixid food and feeding habits are varied. A common method of feeding is by sieving edible particles from bottom debris. They also may ingest other living or dead aquatic invertebrates if small enough or in a decomposed state.

Males chirp by rasping areas of small pegs on the base of the fore femur against the sharp edge of the mouth beak.

The family is diverse in the Neotropics, with approximately 117 species in 14 genera.

As with notonectids (see above), some corixids (Corisella) are found in Mexican markets. Tons of these dried insects are shipped abroad as bird or fish fodder, and they are gathered also for human use, both as eggs or adults (mosco, moschitos). Eggs are laid in enormous numbers on reeds placed in the water by the gatherers. Like those of Notonecta, they are made into a fish-flavored cake, also called huatlé or ahuahutl (Bodenheimer 1951: 295f.).

Refer to Bachmann (1977), Nieser (1981), and Polhemus (1982) for bibliographies on the Latin American fauna.


Bachmann, A. O. 1977. Corixidae. In S. H. Hurlbert, ed., Biota acuática de sudamérica austral. San Diego State Univ., San Diego. Pp. 191-193.

Bodenheimer, F. S. 1951. Insects as human food. Junk, The Hague. Neiser, N. 1981. Corixidae. In S. H. Hurlbert, G. Rodriguez, and N. Dios dos Santos, eds., Aquatic biota of tropical South America. Pt. 1. Arthropoda. San Diego State Univ., San Diego. Pp. 117-119. Polhemus, J. T. 1982. Corixidae. In S. H. Hurlbert and A. Villalobos Figueroa, eds., Aquatic biota of Mexico, Central America and the West Indies. San Diego State Univ., San Diego. Pp. 308-310.

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