Encyclopedia of Entomology

2008 Edition
| Editors: John L. Capinera

Marine Insects and the Sea-Skater Halobates (Hemiptera: Gerridae)

  • Lanna Cheng
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-6359-6_1725

Although insects originated in swampy areas some 300 millions years ago, they then moved toward a terrestrial existence, evolving various physiological adaptations which allowed them to become independent of water or damp places, and to achieve dispersal though the air.

Some of the most important adaptations of many insects living on land include the following:
  • Hardened, impermeable cuticle often impregnated with lipids to cut down on water loss.

  • Tracheal breathing system for efficient distribution of oxygen by diffusion.

  • Wings for long-range aerial dispersal.

  • Complete metamorphosis, which may allow adults and young to exploit completely different habitats.

Surviving the Marine Environment

In order to return to the sea they have had to solve a number of ecological, physiological as well as physical problems. Some of these problems, e.g., osmotic regulation, they have succeeded in solving, while others, e.g., underwater respiration, are perhaps insurmountable, hence the rarity of...
This is a preview of subscription content, log in to check access.


  1. Cheng L (1973) Marine and freshwater skaters: differences in surface fine structures. Nature 242:132–133CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Cheng L (1974) Notes on the ecology of the oceanic insect Halobates. Mar Fish Rev 36:1–7Google Scholar
  3. Cheng L (1976) Insects in marine environments. In: Cheng L (ed) Marine insects. North-Holland Publishing Company, Amsterdam, pp 1–4Google Scholar
  4. Cheng L, Douek M, Goring DAI (1978) UV absorption by gerrid cuticles. Limnol Oceanogr 23:554–556CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Cheng L (1985) Biology of Halobates. Annu Rev Entomol 30:111–135CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Cheng L (2003) Marine insects. In: Resh VH, Carde R (eds) Encyclopedia of insects. Academic, San Diego, California, pp 679–682Google Scholar
  7. Herring JL (1961) The genus Halobates (Hemiptera: Gerridae). Pac Insects 3:223–305Google Scholar
  8. Cheng L, Frank JH (1993) Marine insects and their reproduction. Oceanography and marine biology Annu Rev 31:479–506Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lanna Cheng
    • 1
  1. 1.Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of CaliforniaSan Diego, La JollaUSA