The nymph which grows from one of these eggs does not have gills for breathing under water. It comes to the surface for air, just as its parents do.
One of the smaller bugs which is very common in ponds or at the edges of lakes, is the backswimmer. As his name suggests, he swims on his back. His last pair of legs are longer than the others and seem to do most of the work of pushing his body through the water. Some backswimmers have red eyes, and a silvery-white back which looks like mother-of-pearl.
These bugs hang head downward from the surface of the water with the tips of their abdomens thrust up for air. Other water bugs breathe air from the surface of the water, also, whether they are nymphs or adults.
Backswimmers will attack other water animals, large and small. The backswimmer shown in the photograph attacked a small salamander. The salamander recovered, but the backswimmer was placed in another jar.
Some female backswimmers pierce plant stems and lay their eggs partly inside the
stems. A young backswimmer which develops from one of these eggs looks much like his parents, except that he is much smaller. He sheds his exoskeleton as he outgrows it and replaces it with a new
body covering which has been growing inside the old one.
In winter, backswimmers stay in the water among leaves and plants.
A water boatman is, as a rule, somewhat smaller than the backswimmer and less striking in appearance. He does not swim on his back, nor is he known to harm other animals. You might think him a water beetle, if you did not see his beak and did not look closely at his wings.
A water boatman's middle pair of legs is long, and his hind legs are long and flattened. He, too, is an excellent swimmer.
Unlike most water bugs, a water boatman usually feeds upon bits of living and dead plants from the bottom of the pond. In winter, he hides among the leaves and stems of water plants.
The water boatmen shown in the photograph were tan and brown and about one-half inch long. They were found in a shallow pond where there was a great deal of algae and other vegetation. The water seemed to be filled with them.