The water-resistant legs displace some 300 times their own volumethe 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.
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