Scientists from the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) have discovered a new species of water strider from Nagaland. The species, named Ptilomera nagalanda Jehamalar and Chandra, was found in the river Intanki, Peren district, The Hindu reports.
Water striders are a group of insects adapted to life on the surface of water, using surface tension to their advantage.
Scientists working on the water striders say that their presence serves as an indicator water of water quality and they are found on water surface.
“Orange with black stripes on the dorsal side and a pale yellowish brown ventral part of the body, this particular species has long slender legs and measures about 11.79 mm,” scientist Eyarin Jehamalar told The Hindu.
According to the report, the presence of black stripes on the dorsal side differentiates this species from other known species of the subgenus Ptilomera. The discovery was published in the science journal Zootaxa.
So far, only five species of water striders under the subgenus Ptilomera were known in India.
These includes Ptilomera agriodes found in peninsular India, Ptilomera assamensis found in Northeastern India, Ptilomera laticaudata, Northern and Northeastern India, Pltilomera occidentalis from Uttarakhand andPtilomera tigrina found in the Andaman islands.
With the discovery of Ptilomera nagalanda the number of species of water striders belonging to the subgenus has increased to six.
Other than being a good indicator of water quality, water striders also play an important role in the food chain by feeding on mosquito larvae.
There are nearly 100 species of water striders found in India across different water bodies such as open ocean, ponds, pools, lakes, rivers and streams.
What is unique about Ptilomera is that they are only found in rocky, fast flowing streams and rivers that are not exposed to a lot of sunlight.
Ptilomera has hair on the middle legs that help the insects resist the strong current of streams.
Water striders have three pairs of legs.
The front legs are relatively shorter than the mid and hind legs and used to catch and hold prey. The striders possess needle-like mouth parts that are used for sucking the juice of prey.