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Family Overview
The family Naucoridae includes 5 North American genera with roughly 20 species. However, Pelocoris is the only genus found in the eastern United States. Pelocoris typically inhabits weedy ponds or quiet water. They are generally clingers, but are good swimmers as well. They are piercing predators, with strong grasping forelegs to capture their prey (other small invertebrates). Be careful when handling them; their bite is painful! Fortunately, the pain soon dissipates and leaves no lasting consequences. Some adults in this family have up to four million tiny hydrophobic hairs per square mm that help hold a layer of air (plastron) against the ventrolateral spiracles while underwater so that they do not need to come to the water surface to breathe. Some species also fan this plastron with their hind legs, to increase the current moving across it, and thus increase the diffusion of oxygen from the water.
Characteristics
POLLUTION TOLERANCE
Mid-Atlantic: up to 7
0 = least tolerant, 10 = most tolerant
FEEDING HABITS
Piercer / Predator
MOVEMENT
Clinger
Swimmer
Diagnostic Characters
+ Expanded Character List
Order: Adults: With or without wings. If wings present, forewings typically leathery or hard basally and translucent and flexible apically. Nymphs: With or without wing pads. Segmented legs present. Mandibles hidden within needle-like beak in adults and nymphs.
Family: Similar in appearence to Belostomatidae (giant water bugs) except that margins of eyes are contiguous with anterior margin of head and retractile breathing straps absent from end of abdomen. Beak cylindrical and 3- or 4-segmented. Antennae shorter than head and located beneath eyes, not readily visible dorsally. Middle and hind legs with fringe-like hairs, useful for swimming. Legs are raptorial (suitable for use in predation) with broad femora, and weakly convex dorsally.