Bugs You Will Find In or Around the Water in Illinois
Are you planning on going swimming this summer? Whether in a lake or a pool, cool water sure does feel refreshing in contrast to the hot summer sun! But be careful, because certain bugs like the water too! You may have some bugs as company as you swim, but thankfully, the most common ones are pretty harmless. Here’s a look at a few bugs you may see in or around the water this summer.
Water Striders are primarily found on freshwater ponds, streams, lakes, or other steady water. Some species have wings that allow them to end up in your pool. These guys zip across the surface of water by distributing their weight evenly on all 4 of their long legs. Water striders eat other insects, including mosquitoes and mosquito larvae, so they are not a bad insect to have around! They use the vibrations and ripples in the water to find their food and grab their prey with their front legs. There is no reason to fear these creatures, as they do not bite humans.
No one enjoys hearing the buzzing of mosquitoes, ready to prey on your blood and leave swollen, itchy bumps on your skin for days. Additionally, they may carry diseases such as the West Nile Virus or the Zika Virus. Why are mosquitoes especially found near water? Female mosquitoes lay their eggs in standing water, even in as little as a half of an inch. Therefore, that makes pools, lakes, bird baths, and other standing water perfect targets for these insects to help move along their reproduction cycle.
How do you protect yourself from the itchy mosquito bites? When able, wear long pants and long sleeves to cover exposed skin and wear insect repellent that has DEET. In addition, get rid of any excess standing water around your home.
These striking insects are characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong wings, and an elongated, metallic-looking body. Dragonflies tend to stay around water because that is where they mate and lay their eggs. The larvae stay in the water for some time as they grow, eating basically anything smaller than themselves, including tadpoles, mosquitoes, fish, and other insect larvae. When they are grown they emerge from the water as an adult dragonfly. As adults they feed on flying insects, including mosquitoes and midges. In fact, a single dragonfly can eat 30 to hundreds of mosquitoes per day! There’s no need to be afraid of these stunning insects. You may even want them around because of their ability to control the mosquito population.
This lesser-known insect has a dark brown or black elongated body that is about ½” at adulthood. It has short front legs with longer oar-shaped back legs to swim with. Why is this insect found in the water? Just like the other water insects previously mentioned, water boatmen lay their eggs underwater attached to plants and rocks. As they mature and become adults, they still remain underwater most of the time, eating aquatic plants and algae. But how do they breathe underwater? Interestingly enough, these insects carry their own air supply in the form of air bubbles under their shell, allowing them to stay underwater for extended periods of time. Water boatmen are not dangerous as they do not bite.
I hope this helps you be more knowledgeable in the insects you might encounter while you are swimming in your pool or lake this summer. There are many more ‘water bugs’ out there, but no worries, because the most common ones are harmless to humans.