Possible Halobates specimen, sitting on a beach in Hawaii. Photo by Cory Campora. See the original at Flickr.
I started drafting a blog post several months ago about marine insects, in response to several then-recent statements like “there are no marine insects” and “insects never invaded the ocean”. Of course there are marine insects! There’s even a whole edited volume about them. My two favorite marine taxa are Chathamiidae (Trichoptera; eggs are laid in starfish!) and Hermatobatidae (Heteroptera; coral treaders!). They’re definitely worth reading more about.
Well, a group of pelagic insects—Halobates sea skaters (Heteroptera: Gerridae)—have been highlighted in the news this week, thanks to an interesting article by Goldstein et al. (online early at Biology Letters). Goldstein et al. show that the ever-increasing amount of plastics pollution in our oceans (the expanding plastisphere) has resulted in an increase in Halobates sericeus egg density (more places for them to lay their eggs) and now presents an interesting opportunity to study changes in the ecology of these insects and their prey/predators. Even Science ran a story about this research.
It’s great to see that marine insects are getting some press. Maybe I won’t need to finish this draft anytime soon.