Sunday, March 13, 2011

Pond Skater

True Wild Life | Pond Skater | The pond skater is a delicate water-based insect commonly found on still bodies of water across the Northern Hemisphere. There are around 500 different species of pond skater that are known by a variety of different names including water striders, water bugs, magic bugs, skaters, skimmers, water scooters, water skaters, water skeeters, water skimmers, water skippers and Jesus bugs. The pond skater is most commonly found across Europe where they live on the surface of ponds, slow streams, marshes, and other quiet waters, in all parts of the continent. Pond skaters are most well known for their ability to "walk on water", where pond skaters use surface tension to delicately walk on the surface of the water.

Pond skaters float on the surface of the water sensing vibrations and ripples in the water with sensitive hairs on their legs and bodies. If an insect accidentally falls into the water, the ripples it makes will tell the pond skater exactly where it is and the pond skater will dart across the surface of the pond to catch it's prey. The long legs of the pond skater mean that they are very agile on the surface of the water and can jump to evade a predator or to catch an insect. Pond skaters however, do not spend all their time on the water as they will fly far from water to hibernate through the winter and then re-emerge from hibernation in the warmer spring.

The pond skater is a carnivorous insect that feeds only on other invertebrates in order to survive. Despite their thin and floaty appearance, the pond skater is actually a pretty aggressive predator, pouncing on insects that land on the water's surface. Insect larvae are the other main food source for the pond skater. Due to it's small size and prominent appearance on the water's still surface, the pond skater is easily spotted by other pond-life. Fish and newts in the water along with birds, frogs and toads on the surface are the main predators of the pond skater.

Pond skaters are known to mate on the surface of the water in the warming months of spring and early summer, before the female pond skater returns to the water's edge to lay her eggs on a leaf where they will be safer from predators. When hatched, the pond skater nymph drop into the water where they continue to develop, before emerging on the surface as water-walking adults.

Although, a common sight on garden ponds throughout Europe, pond skaters in less cultivated areas are being increasingly affected by the rising levels of pollution in the natural freshwater sources.

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