I wanted to talk about an animal today that the majority of my readers could relate with so I have decided to write about the Pond Skater. If you are not familiar with them then perhaps you don’t live in the Northern Hemisphere where there are more than 5oo different species. If you do live on this half of the world and still have no idea what the heck a Pond Skater is then I suggest you check out their alternative names. Pond Skaters are also referred to as Water Striders, Water Bugs, Magic Bugs, Skimmers, Water Scooters, Water Skaters, Water Skeeters, Water Skippers and of course Jesus Bugs. That is a ton of names but I guess that is bound to happen when there are 500 different species. Let’s take a minute to learn more about these Water Striders (my goal is to refer to them by each of their alternative names throughout the entire post, wish me luck!)
Water Bugs can be found on the surface of slow moving streams, ponds, marshes and other areas with relatively still water. After all it would be tough to walk on top of fast moving water, wouldn’t it? Obviously these Magic Bugs are best known for their ability to walk on water. I am not sure why everyone is so amazed with this feat as just about anyone can walk on water in the Northern Hemisphere during the winter months. So how do these little guys manage to do it when there is no ice helping them out? Well they rely on the surface tension of the water. They all have specialized legs that are covered by tiny hairs, called microsetae, with small nanogrooves. It is this leg structure that actually allows the Skimmers to stand on water.
While the Water Scooters are hanging out on the surface of small ponds and marshes they will be actively hunting for other small invertebrates on the water or just below the water surface. Remember those tiny hairs on the Water Skaters specialized legs? Those microsetae are also used to detect vibrations in the water. If a poor insect accidentally falls in the water the Water Skeeter will detect the ripples the insect makes and know exactly where to find their helpless lunch. Surprisingly the Water Skippers are able to get to their prey quickly being able to move at speeds of 1.5 m/s across the pond surface. I guess they need to make sure they get there before another predator finds their meal.
Pond Skater Fast Fact – The Jesus Bug (not my favourite alternative name for some reason) are very agile as a result of their long legs. In fact they are actually able to jump in order to evade a predator or catch their prey. You may think that these Pond Skaters spend all of their time on the water since they are so perfectly adapted. Truth is these insects tend to fly far from the water to hibernate for the winter. As spring approaches they will emerge and fly back to their watery homes.
I hope you enjoyed today’s fact on the animal with many names. Have a great day!