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Backswimmer

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Kirill Ignatyev
/
Flickr
A backswimmer, Notonecta glauca

Notonectidae is a cosmopolitan family of aquatic insects in the order Hemiptera, commonly called backswimmers because they swim "upside down" (inverted). They are all predators and typically range from 0.5 to 1.5 cm (0.2–0.6 in) in length. They are similar in appearance to Corixidae (water boatmen), but can be separated by differences in their dorsal-ventral coloration, front legs, and predatory behavior.

Backswimmers swim on their backs, vigorously paddling with their long, hair-fringed hind legs and attack prey as large as tadpoles and small fish. They can inflict a painful "bite" on a human being, actually a stab with their sharp tubular mouthparts (proboscis).

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Rudy Mancke served as naturalist and co-host of South Carolina ETV's NatureScene, which began its long run in 1978. His field trips, broadcast nationwide, have earned him a legion of dedicated viewers. Rudy's knowledge of the complex inner-workings of different ecosystems and his great admiration for the natural world make him the perfect guide. In fact, the National Wildlife Federation and the Garden Club of America honored his commitment to resource conservation with special awards. Since retiring from SCETV, Rudy has gone on to teach at the University of South Carolina, Columbia.