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Insects and Walking on Water Report

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Updated: Apr 22nd, 2021

Some insects, commonly known as water striders, can move on the surface of the water without using a flight or floatation mechanism or sinking. The capacity is only observed in insects, although specific other living creatures can imitate the same result through a different method. The primary mechanic responsible for making the traversal possible is known as surface tension. This report details the particulars of the phenomenon and notes other methods used by animals to propel themselves across the water.

Surface tension is a phenomenon in which the outer layer of a liquid is more cohesive than the rest. According to “Surface Tension,” the interaction is caused by molecular forces, which are more focused due to the presence of fewer adjacent molecules. Then the hydrophobic legs of water striders resist submersion, and the gravity affecting the insect is insufficient to overcome the tension’s resistance and sink it (Suter).

Larger animals cannot copy the approach because their mass increases faster than their surface area, but Konkel notes that some of them can use surface tension to traverse short distances on the water by repeatedly slapping it. The method is highly energy-intensive, and only water striders can stay on top of the water for extended periods of time.

The ability of water striders to stay on the surface is explained by their small weight, water-repellent limbs, and the surface tension of water. The resistance of the water to the disruption that would be caused by the insect’s sinking is greater than the gravity pushing it down. Other animals are unable to replicate the phenomenon due to their higher ratio of mass to the surface, but they can use different approaches to traverse water. Ultimately, only water striders can stay on top of the water and live there throughout their lives.

Works Cited

Konkel, Lindsey. “LiveScience. 2010. Web.

Georgia State University. Web.

Suter, Robert B. “Scientific American. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2021. "Insects and Walking on Water." April 22, 2021. https://ivypanda.com/essays/insects-and-walking-on-water/.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Insects and Walking on Water'. 22 April.

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