Hairy Legs Help Bugs Walk on Water

<< Back to Page 1   Page 2 of 2

The water-resistant legs displace some 300 times their own volume—the source of the insect's remarkable buoyancy. Jiang and colleague Xuefeng Gao found that the water strider's legs are so buoyant, they can support 15 times the insect's weight without it sinking.

This excess floatation capacity may allow the insects to bounce on water surfaces, much like a rubber ball on a cement sidewalk, to avoid drowning during a downpour.

The superfloatation also helps the bugs to skate across water surfaces in search of prey with remarkable speed. The insects can dash at speeds of a hundred body lengths per second. To match them, a 6-foot-tall (1.8-meter-tall) person would have to swim at over 400 miles an hour (644 kilometers an hour).

Water striders not only travel quickly, but they venture far afield. Scientists say some bugs have traveled hundreds of miles across calm tropical oceans.

Don't Miss a Discovery
Sign up for the free Inside National Geographic newsletter. Every two weeks we'll send you our top news stories by e-mail.

For more water-insect stories, scroll to bottom.

<< Back to Page 1   Page 2 of 2


SOURCES AND RELATED WEB SITES

ADVERTISEMENT

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC'S PHOTO OF THE DAY

NEWS FEEDS     After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.   After installing a news reader, click on this icon to download National Geographic News's XML/RSS feed.

Get our news delivered directly to your desktop—free.
How to Use XML or RSS

National Geographic Daily News To-Go

Listen to your favorite National Geographic news daily, anytime, anywhere from your mobile phone. No wires or syncing. Download Stitcher free today.
Click here to get 12 months of National Geographic Magazine for $15.