American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
- n. Any of various aquatic bugs of the family Notonectidae that swim on their backs by means of broadened, oarlike hind legs.
Century Dictionary and Cyclopedia
- n. Same as boat-fly.
GNU Webster's 1913
- n. any of numerous predaceous aquatic insects of the family
Notonectidae(such as Notonecta undulata) that swim on their backs and may inflict painful bites; -- also called boat bug.
- n. predaceous aquatic insect that swims on its back and may inflict painful bites
- back + swimmer (Wiktionary)
“Scientists have found that an aquatic insect known as a backswimmer, which is similar a water boatman, releases a "scent" that scares off mosquitoes - although it cannot be picked up by the human nose.”
“Previous research from Blaustein's lab demonstrated that the mosquito, Culiseta longiareolata, chemically detects a voracious predator of its progeny in the water, the backswimmer, Notonecta maculata, and avoids laying eggs where the predator is detected.”
“While many say that water boatmen do not bite and are often confused with the backswimmer, I am sure that the insects in the pool were water boatmen, so I would urge some care in handling them if you come across them and want to take a closer look.”
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