One of the mysteries of the English language finally explained.
1A predatory aquatic bug that swims on its back using its long back legs as oars. It is able to capture large prey such as tadpoles and fish.
Family Notonectidae, suborder Heteroptera: Notonecta and other generaAlso called backswimmer
- ‘The boat, full of four big heavy men, seemed not to touch the water but to rest on the surface film like a water boatman.’
2An aquatic bug which spends much of its time on the bottom, using its front legs to sieve food from the water and its hair-fringed rear legs for swimming.
Family Corixidae, suborder Heteroptera: Corixa, Sigara, and other genera
- ‘A pond is a little world in itself, he says, home to a dizzying array of creatures from frogs and newts to water boatmen, diving beetles, dragonflies and damselfies.’
- ‘Students in Mrs. Morse's class selected such study topics as salamanders, water moccasins, crayfish, frogs, water striders, water boatmen, ducks, the pond bottom, and algae/plankton.’
- ‘Water spiders skimmed, water boatmen rowed to the depths, newts basked in sunny shallows, small snails clung to leaves, ribbon-like larvae wriggled, tadpoles twitched and bloated leeches deterred paddling.’
- ‘This is not just about angling, but also about our river and lake environments that support a huge diversity of wildlife from water boatmen to kingfishers.’
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