Have you ever noticed very small insects on water surfaces skating or striding swiftly over the water? Do you wonder whether it is a small-sized spider or a mosquito with long legs? Well, these little water striders that walk on water are called pond skaters. With water repellent hairy feet, these insects glide or skate across the surface of water with ease. Thanks to this skating-like movement, the insect got its name: pond skater, and the scientific name given to these insects is Gerris lacustris. It belongs to the Gerridae family, which includes more than 350 species.
These are harmless, friendly insects that help humans by keeping in check the population of mosquitoes by feeding on their larvae. Along with larvae, they also feed on small insects as prey that are found on the water's surface. These creatures are a very good example of how nature maintains a balance in the ecosystem. Found on calm water bodies, one can have fun watching them move together from one side of the water body to another side with the small disturbances created on the surface of the water.
A pond skater is an insect. The body shape of this bug is very slender and elongated, with three pairs of legs. These water striders, or common pond skaters, walk on water with their water repellent limbs. Floating on the ripples in the water, they use the water's surface to communicate and prey.
What class of animal does a Pond Skater belong to?
Belonging to the class Insecta, common pond skaters, also known as water striders, do not have wings and belong to the family of Garridae, which have mouthparts evolved to pierce and suck, known as a rostrum, and have the famous ability to walk on water, hence the name pleuston (surface-living) animals.
How many Pond Skaters are there in the world?
Counting the number of common pond skaters skating across the water around the world is not practically possible but one can find them in very large numbers around calm water bodies.
Where does a Pond Skater live?
A pond skater, or water strider, lives on any small to large water bodies like ponds, lakes, ditches, slow-flowing rivers, and canals.
What is a Pond Skater's habitat?
As the name suggests, the common pond skater lives mostly on stagnant water surfaces or very slow-moving freshwater bodies.
Who do Pond Skaters live with?
We can see different species of water striders along with the common pond skater. They live alongside water crickets, mosquitoes, fishes, and other small insects that one can find in a common pond.
How long does a Pond Skater live?
The life span of the common pond skater is just one year. After a female lays eggs the young have five different nymph stages each lasting for about 10 days, before reaching the adult phase.
How do they reproduce?
They reproduce by an antagonistic reproductive relationship (sexual coercion). Females can shield themselves to protect against unwanted advancement, but males have evolved to reproduce by exposing the female to potential predators from below the water surface by tapping its surface, thus forcing her to submit quickly. A female lays its eggs on rocks or vegetation found in the pond vicinity.
What is their conservation status?
Gerris lacustris are widely seen across the globe. The conservation status for this species is Least Concern.
Pond Skater Fun Facts
What do Pond Skaters look like?
A quick look at them might make you think these are simply mosquitoes with longer legs floating on water, but a closer look will reveal that they do not fly away but stride or skate across the water.
How cute are they?
With their short front legs to catch prey and middle and back legs used for swift movements, pond skaters are a must-watch interesting species, but there are certainly cuter animals out there.
How do they communicate?
Pond skaters create ripple signals by moving their legs on the water surface to communicate and catch prey. Males use these vibration patterns to establish their territory and to attract females too.
How big is a Pond Skater?
The body length is mostly between 0.08–0.47 in (2-12 mm). Just like a small mosquito with no wings and long legs, females are a little larger than their male counterparts.
How fast can a Pond Skater move?
Like any water strider, the speed of a common pond skater is around 100 body-lengths per second. To put that into perspective, it is similar to a human traveling as fast as 20,000 miles per hour!
How much does a Pond Skater weigh?
A pond skater is a very small insect that doesn't weigh more than ten dynes in total, which is approximately 0.00035 oz (0.01 g).
What are their male and female names of the species?
They are simply called male and female pond skaters. As we know, their scientific name is Gerris lacustris.
What would you call a baby Pond Skater?
Again, there is no specific term for a baby pond skater bug. We do know that the life cycle of a pond skater starts with its egg stage, followed by five stages of nymphs and then the adult stage.
What do they eat?
They prey on mosquito larvae, very small insects that fall on the surface of the water, and very small tadpoles.
Are they poisonous?
No, they are not poisonous. Though pond skaters are very good predators, they do not bite but just prey on smaller insects.
Would they make a good pet?
They naturally exist around ponds and small freshwater bodies, mostly on still water surfaces. This natural habitat is where they thrive, so no, they are not suitable pets.
Did you know...
Pond skaters have been on earth for as long as 55 million years.
The legs of the pond skater can support up to 15 times the entire insect's weight.
Along with their hairy water repellent feet, their claws are retractable to help prevent them from drowning by breaking the surface tension of the water surface. This helps them to stay buoyant even during heavy winds and rains.
Pond skaters are at risk of being eaten by frogs and small fish.
How do Pond Skaters survive?
The legs of a common pond skater are hairy, with tiny grooves which trap air. These grooves on the legs increase the water resistance and overall water buoyancy of the pond skater to allow them to skate across the surface of the water. Also, pond skaters can turn to cannibalism for survival when there is a shortage of food.
Other members of the Gerridae insect family
Other members of the Gerridae insect family are water striders, water skeeters, pond skaters, water scooters, water bugs, water skippers, and water skimmers. About 90% of these are freshwater insects, Halobates are the oceanic ones.
Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! Learn more about some other insects, including the stick bug, or fungus beetle.
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