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Life in Freshwater

Pond Skater (Gerris lacustris)

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Pond Skater

There are a variety of species all very similar. They live on the surface tension of static water moving jerkily across the surface using their long mid and hind legs. The fore legs are held in front to catch food. The body is about 1 cm in length. Wings are not always present.

This is a very common insect on ponds and slow moving water surfaces. It is found in most parts of Europe and is often one of the first insects to colonise a new pond, breeding quickly.

ECOLOGY: Pond Skaters use the surface tension of the water to keep them above the surface. The curvature of the surface tension can be seen in the photograph below. They also use it to detect their prey. This may be a small insect, such as mosquitoes, which cause a ripple in the surface. The skater picks up the vibration and moves towards it, then its good eyesight takes over as it grasps the prey with its folded front legs. It will also feed on dead material caught in the surface. They are active most of the warm months of the year and fly off to find a place to hibernate (overwintering on land) as well as colonise new ponds. Red dots on the legs and sometimes the body are young water mites.

Pond Skater with bulging in the surface tension

 Classification:

 

 Kingdom

Animal

 Phylum

Arthropoda

 Class

Insecta

 Order

Hemiptera - true bugs

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