Pond skaters

Yesterday, there were pond skaters (Gerris lacustris) on the little pond under the wooden bridge.

Recent research has shown that pond skaters legs are covered with thousands of microscopic hairs scored with tiny groves. The grooves trap air and make the insect’s legs so water resistant and buoyant that even in a rainstorm like the one we had yesterday, it stays afloat, apparently standing on little dips in the water’s surface.

Like all insects, a pond skater has three pairs of legs. The front legs are short and adapted to allow the skater to grab prey on the surface of the water. The middle legs are used as paddles. The back legs are the longest and they provide additional power.

The water resistance and long legs make a skater very fast. Researchers have worked out out they can achieve speeds of a hundred body lengths per second. To match them, a human would have to swim at over 400 miles an hour.

Next time you cross the wooden bridge, look over the rail for the pond skaters.

Another invertebrate:
Bloody nosed beetle

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