Lesser Water Boatman

Corixa punctata

  1. Wildlife
  2. Invertebrates
  3. Bugs
  4. Lesser Water Boatman


The Lesser Water Boatman, Corixa punctata, is one of a number of water boatmen species in the UK. It is common and widespread in weedy ponds, lakes and ditches. Like the backswimmer, it has long, oar-like legs to help it swim at the surface of the water, but it does not swim upside-down. It is also herbivorous, eating algae and detritus, unlike the carnivorous backswimmer. Like other aquatic bugs, Lesser Water Boatmen need to breathe at the water's surface, but they have developed an ingenious trick to allow them to remain under water for longer: they hang upside-down, collecting air from the water’s surface and then carry around as a bubble on their body. During warm weather the adults may take flight.

How to identify

The Lesser Water Boatman is dark brown with yellow, close-set stripes. It has powerful oar-like, hairy hind legs which it uses as paddles as it swims. Its body resembles the shape of a boat, hence it's common name. The various species of water boatmen are very difficult to tell apart from each other, but can be easily distinguished from backswimmers by their swimming technique.

Where to find it



When to find it

  • January
  • February
  • March
  • April
  • May
  • June
  • July
  • August
  • September
  • October
  • November
  • December

How can people help

Human activity, including the drainage of land for agriculture and the loss of ponds through development, has resulted in the disappearance of many wetlands. The Wildlife Trusts are working closely with planners, developers and farmers to ensure our wetlands are protected. You can help too: encourage all kinds of insects from water boatmen to dragonflies into your garden by having a wildlife-friendly pond. In turn, they'll provide vital food for other creatures such as frogs and toads. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started.

Species information

Common name
Lesser Water Boatman
Latin name
Corixa punctata
Length: 1cm
Conservation status