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Life in Freshwater

Water Scorpion (Nepa scorpiodes)

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Water scorpion on Elodea

This is a very distinctive bug that (like a small dead leaf) is very flat and a siphon out the end of the abdomen. The body can be up to two centimetres in length. It moves very little waiting for prey to come to it. The Water Stick Insect (Ranatra linearis) is a similar behaving bug but very long and thin. Although both insects have wings only the latter tends to fly. Nepa flies when it really has to, e.g. if the pond is drying up and it needs to find a another one.

A widespread insect across Europe in ponds with plenty of vegetation on which to attach itself. It can be found in most seasons. Ranatra is very local and not often seen.

ECOLOGY: Like all underwater bugs the mouthparts are needle-like for piercing. Nepa is a blood-sucker. By remaining still in the water, breathing air from above the surface with its siphon, it can remain still camouflaged like a leaf. When an insect comes near it grasps it with the front legs and then sucks out the fluids. In will also attack small fish and tadpoles. They move very little and then do not swim but climb around teh vegetation. Like all bugs these have partical metamorphosis (no pupa stage) and so small nymphs can be seen, after hatching from a large egg laid near the surface. It has little hair-like extensions on the egg which draw air down to the egg to provide it with oxygen.

 Classification:

 

 Kingdom

Animal

 Phylum

Arthropoda

 Class

Insecta

 Order

Hemiptera - true bugs

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