Friday, 10 April 2015

Pond Skaters...

The novelty of having a large, mature pond in the garden at my daily disposal will take some getting use to. Frogs and toads are normally present, I've had smooth newts, grass snakes slow worms and several species of dragon and damselflies here over the years. Whilst toad watching at the weekend I started looking at some of the smaller residents now out and about, including the humble Common Pond Skater Gerris lacustris or Water Strider as they are sometime known.

The front legs are modified and used to hold their prey, the middle pair are used to row them around the surface of the pond and the rear legs are used to steer like rudders. All of them are coated in fine waxy hairs that help to keep it balanced on the water's surface tension. They can really move too, scooting across the water surface at over a meter a second! To complete the line-up they have piercing mouth-parts which suck the nutrients out of their unfortunate prey. Quite formidable to have something like that bearing down on you! Would be great to find some of the other eight UK species here too.

Common Pondskater, Gerris lacustris: R. Harris
Looking forward to documenting all of the species present as the summer unfolds.

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