Backswimmers (Notonecta sp.) are common predators about 1 cm long with large compound eyes. They swim upside-down, propelling themselves by rowing with their long hind legs that are trimmed with hair. They are also good fliers and have well-developed wings. They are widespread in North America and can be found in slow-moving streams or ponds.
They are very similar to another bug you might know, the water boatman. However, backswimmers are usually larger and as said before, swim upside down.
Backswimmers attack prey as large as tadpoles and small fish. If not handled carefully, a backswimmer can inflict a bite as painful as a bee’s sting which earned it the alternative names water wasp and water bee.
There are various species and genera of backswimmers and when they are not swimming they cling to vegetation and wait for prey to swim or walk by. Backswimmers are attracted at night to artificial lights. People sometimes find these insects in swimming pools, where they end up after the night’s flying excursion.