Back to list

Common pond skater

Gerris lacustris

Photo: Common pond skater
Weights and measures
Length 20 mm
Animal description
The Common Pond Skater, scientifically known as Gerris lacustris, is a fascinating insect that graces the surfaces of calm freshwater bodies such as ponds, lakes, and slow-moving streams. This species belongs to the family Gerridae, which encompasses water striders that are adept at navigating the water's surface. The Common Pond Skater is a master of surface tension, utilizing it to its advantage to glide effortlessly across the water, hunting for food, and evading predators.

Physical Characteristics:
The Common Pond Skater is notable for its slender, elongated body that is perfectly adapted to its aquatic lifestyle. Typically, the body length ranges from 10 to 12 millimeters for adults, with males generally being slightly smaller than females. The coloration of these insects is usually a dark brown or black, providing them with excellent camouflage against the backdrop of the water's surface and vegetation.

One of the most distinctive features of the Common Pond Skater is its long, slender legs. The front pair of legs are shorter and are used for capturing prey, the middle pair are longer and act as the main propulsion mechanism, allowing the insect to 'skate' across the water, and the hind pair are the longest, used for steering. The legs are equipped with fine hairs that repel water, aiding in their ability to stay atop the water surface without breaking through.

Habitat and Distribution:
Gerris lacustris is widely distributed across Europe and Asia, thriving in a variety of freshwater habitats. These insects prefer still or slow-moving waters where the surface tension is high enough to support their weight. They are commonly found in ponds, lakes, ditches, and slow-moving rivers, often congregating in areas with abundant vegetation. This vegetation provides them with shelter, breeding grounds, and hunting territories.

Diet and Hunting Behavior:
The diet of the Common Pond Skater primarily consists of small insects and larvae that fall onto the water's surface. They are skilled predators, using their sensitive front legs to detect vibrations on the water's surface, which indicate the presence of potential prey. Once a prey item is detected, the Pond Skater quickly skates over and uses its piercing mouthparts to inject digestive enzymes into the prey, liquefying its insides, which are then sucked out.

Reproduction and Lifecycle:
The reproductive cycle of Gerris lacustris begins in the spring, when males start to establish territories and court females. After mating, females lay their eggs on vegetation just above or on the water surface. The eggs hatch into nymphs, which undergo several molts before reaching adulthood. This process can take several weeks to months, depending on environmental conditions.

Conservation Status:
Currently, the Common Pond Skater is not considered to be at risk. It is a widespread and common species with a large population. However, like many freshwater species, it could be impacted by pollution, habitat destruction, and climate change, which could affect water quality and availability of suitable habitats.

In conclusion, the Common Pond Skater is a remarkable insect that has adapted perfectly to life on the water's surface. Its unique physical characteristics, hunting prowess, and lifecycle make it an intriguing subject of study for entomologists and nature enthusiasts alike. As an integral part of freshwater ecosystems, it plays a vital role in controlling insect populations and thus maintaining the ecological balance.
New photos of animals