WHEN you go home from school, if you pass a pond, you
are almost sure to be able to find one, or more, of the
three water-bugs of this lesson, and I want you to look
The first is a long, thin, black insect. He
 walks on top of the water, looking like a needle on
legs. He is sometimes called a "needle-bug," but more
often a "water-measurer," because he seems to measure
the water with his legs as he runs.
He has very fine hairs under his body and on his legs.
The air between these hairs prevents him from getting
wet and being drowned. He has two long feelers, and a
long thin beak. His legs and body are a reddish colour
and his wings a glossy black.
If you watch him, you will see him start all at once
across the pond. He is catching a water-fly. Then he
will hold it in his front claws, and suck the juice out
of its body. Though the water-measurer has wings, he
does not often fly.
The next water-bug is not so thin. He is about an inch
long, and has a flat body with grey wings folded across
it. He has only very short feelers, and his front legs
are thick and strong, with pincers at the end, and this
is why he is called the "water-scorpion." He uses these
pincers to seize the insects in the water, and sucks
them dry through his sharp beak.
He swims under water very slowly, or crawls in the mud,
and is easily caught. You may catch him too when he
comes up to get air. This he does in a very funny way.
He has two
 long bristles at the end of his tail. When he puts
these together they make a tube like a hollow straw. He
comes near the top of the water, and thrusts out the
end of this tube into the air, and draws some into his
body. The eggs of the mother water-scorpion are stuck
on to the leaves of water-plants, and look like seeds.
The last water-bug I am sure you know. He is a little
fellow, rather like a beetle, with six legs, two of
them being very long ones; and he swims upside down,
rowing himself along with these two legs, as if they
were oars. This is why he is called a "water-boatman."
A.WATER-SCORPION. B.WATER-BOATMAN. C.WATER-MEASURER.
He has a long, sucking beak, but you will hardly see it
unless you dip him out with a glass
 and look close. For as he swims upside-down, the bug
bends his head down on his chest, so that his beak lies
between his legs.
His eyes at the side of his head are very large, so
that he can look both down and up. This is very useful,
for he swims under tadpoles and grubs, and catches them
in his claws. Then he bites them with his sharp beak,
and sucks out their soft body. He is always swimming in
the water, or crawling in the mud. In the evening he
sometimes comes out and flies to another pond or ditch.
The mother water-boatman lays small, long, white eggs
on stems and leaves in the water. You may often find
them in March, and in April you may see the little bugs
swimming upside down like their parents.
If you take the trouble, you may catch these three
water-bugs in a net, and put them in a glass, and see
all I have told you.