In the animal kingdom, there are numerous examples of bizarre mating rituals, many from animals we’ve never even heard of or seen. But what about a Water Strider? Even if people don’t identify it correctly, it is likely an animal many people have seen, especially if they spend any time near freshwater. These long-legged insects skate across the surface of the water, their dark shadow often decorating the rocks below. They seem so graceful and innocent… but looks are deceiving.
Water striders most definitely do not practice safe sex, though it’s the males who are responsible for this, not the females.
Female water striders have evolved to have a genital shield and they must give consent to interested males. Problem is, sometimes they are just not interested in getting frisky and would rather be left alone. Males do not appreciate this obvious lack of interest and so resort to taking matters into their own hands, or in this case, legs, as in 3 pairs of long ones.
The male will approach a female and if she’s not all that interested he will climb on her back anyway. If that doesn’t convince her he will begin to tap one or more of his long legs into the water, vibrating them ominously. Fish below the surface may see the vibrations and come in for a closer look, and maybe a tasty meal if it continues. Since he is on top, further from the fish, he might not get eaten. But she will.
The faster the female gives in, the smaller the likelihood of her becoming fish food.