Why did only one genus of insects, Halobates, take to the high seas?

Lanna Cheng, Himanshu Mishra

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Oceans cover more than 70% of the Earth’s surface and house a dizzying array of organisms. Mammals, birds, and all manner of fish can be commonly sighted at sea, but insects, the world’s most common animals, seem to be completely absent. Appearances can deceive, however, as 5 species of the ocean skater Halobates live exclusively at the ocean surface. Discovered 200 years ago, these peppercorn-sized insects remain rather mysterious. How do they cope with life at the ocean surface, and why are they the only genus of insects to have taken to the high seas?
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e3001570
JournalPLOS Biology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 13 2022

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2022-04-18
Acknowledged KAUST grant number(s): BAS/1/1070-01-01
Acknowledgements: LC would like to thank all past and present coauthors, who are too many to list, for their contributions in advancing our knowledge on Halobates, as well as organizations and individuals for sending her collections. She wishes to dedicate this article to the memory of her late husband Prof. Ralph A. Lewin; without his moral and financial support for almost 4 decades, Halobates might still remain just an insect oddity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Agricultural and Biological Sciences
  • General Neuroscience
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Immunology and Microbiology


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