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(the latter name derives from the fact that the body, widest at the middle or hind legs, tapers to the abdomen, giving the impression of broad shoulders), any of the approximately 300 species of the insect family Veliidae (order Heteroptera). Smaller water striders-which may be brown, black, or silvery in colour-occur throughout the world. They are small (usually less than 5 millimetres [0.2 inch] long) and stout-bodied; both long-winged and short-winged or wingless forms exist within a species