Insects are one of the most diverse of all living things on this planet. This amazing diversity among them has resulted in them becoming the most widespread and probably the most numerous of all animal species. To bring forth this kind of variety, I always wonder, if there must be a very powerful high level algorithm, that keeps generating these varied genetic make ups, with sometimes subtle but mostly drastic distinctions. Even so, it seems that, once in a while, the algorithm results in a repeat of pattern. Cases, where in the resulting insect looks partly similar to another existing specimen.
One such, was what I encountered during my recent visit to Agumbe as a part of the Rainforest Rendezvous with Darter Photography.
While trying to get across one of the many streams cutting through the camp site, noticed this one sitting on the leaf of a shrub, right by the side of the stream.
It was sitting there with what looked like an extended pair of legs at the front, looking very much like a scorpion. But seemed to be missing the powerful pincers or the long stinger tail of scorpions, instead had a stick like extension for a tail. It had those large bulging eyes and the extended sucking part, called the rostrum, for the mouth. These were very indicative of it being a bug, but this was a first timer for me. Had no idea what I was looking at.
At one point, it also displayed some kind of blue colored wing like structures fluttering inside, may be a kind of alarm, letting me know that it was aware of my presence…..
Took a few shots before it started to pour and it starting moving down into the bushes….. Couldn’t really get a proper ID on this guy. After coming back from Agumbe, was trying to find out as to what it could be, when I came across a Wikipedia article about what are known as Pseudo Scorpions. But, those were arachnids and not insects as such and were very much smaller too.
Then, I asked Karthik ( our Guruji :-) ) for his help in ID’ing this insect, when he pointed me to one of his wonderfully and informatively written blog post, which revealed the true identity of this amazing insect. It was a ‘Water Scorpion’, another of those wonderful creatures of the insect world.
A creature which has developed an amazing adaptation for its partially aquatic lifestyle. The answer lies in its tail.
Here’s an excerpt… ( src : Water Scorpions )
Like the majority of insects, water scorpions are air-breathers. They carry a submerged air bubble that serves as a renewable air supply. Air is trapped by tiny water-repellent hairs on the under surface of the forewings and the underlying abdomen . The trapped air bubble connects with the surface through a series of hairs between the two tail filaments of the breathing tube. When this breaks the surface, diffusion renews the oxygen content of the air bubble.
Thus, the tail acts as a breathing tube for the insect when it is submerged under water.
For more details on this wonderful creature, please read Karthik’s lovely post here - Karthik’s Journal - Waterscorpion
and another great article on it here - Water Scorpions
At the end, it was a great learning for me and was very happy indeed, with my tryst with the Water Scorpion.