Tips on Identifying the Common Water Strider?

Can anyone advise me on the best way to differentiate the Common Water Strider (Aquarius remigis) from other water strider species without capturing one? I see that there are many ‘research grade’ photos on iNaturalist and I’d like to know how they are being identified. From the reading I’ve done it would seem that the key features are nearly impossible to see in photographs. Am I overlooking something? And is there something apart from size that would be useful in making a field ID when a photograph isn’t possible?

I’d very much appreciate if anyone can shed some light or point me to a good species-specific reference. Thanks!

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usually for stuff like this, i would go over to BugGuide to see what identification notes they have there ( you could also end a note to @mpintar on iNaturalist and see if he can shed some light on identification of this species. he seems to be the one always identifying my water bugs, and he has responded to my questions when i’ve asked in the past.

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Thank you! BugGuide was actually my first stop on-line, but they’re using the same features that would require magnification and not necessarily be visible in a photo.

For Gerridae id you do need special angles, not always big magnifying though, BugGuide requires body size and proportions of antennal segments, you should see that in a good photo of a dorsal side of the insect, also good lateral view will be good too if you’ll find another species to id. Also geography plays a big role in excluding other species.

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Aquarius remigis has many issues. It is way over suggested by the cv on iNat. Then there are taxonomic issues, which you can read about under “remarks” on this page (which I wrote)

It is true that they can be quite difficult to separate, and characteristics listed in keys are often not visible from many photos here. But there are other differences, and after looking at thousands of specimens of many different taxa and reading through much of the primary literature, I can id most to genus or species groups based on decent photos. Decent photos are important, and you also have be able to separate adults from nymphs, which can look similar among different subfamilies.

I do most of the ids on BugGuide now, but your best bet is to post things here, and it’s easier for me to find new observations.

I would be interested, as well. I remember doing a project when I was younger where we had to make a book about being an interesting organism. I choose a Water Strider, and I have been trying to find one ever since!

Thank you. This confirms my suspicion that I wouldn’t be able to ID that species (supposedly the most common?) in the field. I’ve made it a recent goal to try and learn as many local Heteropteran species by sight as possible (same as birding or butterfly watching), but (as you already know) many entire families are impossible and I wasn’t sure about the water striders in light of the iNat identifications.

Thank you! Time for a new camera, I think.

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Catching it and using magnifying lens and anything to photograph it would work too, but yes, if you’re ineested in insects you need something for macro, though I’d say your bug photos are pretty decent.

Thanks, that’s much appreciated! I’ve been using an old point-and-shoot, though, and as you can imagine, an active aquatic insect is more than a bit of a challenge with a camera like that.

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