Humans can ice-skate, but common pond skaters can water-skate.
- Common pond skaters are insects native to Europe’s rivers and smaller water bodies, and they are known for their ability to stand on and skate across water, due to their light weight.
- ‘Common pond skaters’ are also known as ‘common water striders’, and they are brown to black in colour.
- The scientific name of the common pond skater is Gerris lacustris and it is from the family Gerridae, the family of pond skaters.
- Common pond skaters range from 0.8 to 1.5 centimetres (0.3 to 0.6 inches) in length, and females are typically larger than males.
- Each pair of a common pond skater’s six legs have a different purpose; the first pair are used to catch prey, the second pair are used like oars to propel the insect across water, and the third pair are used to steer.
Common Pond Skater
Image courtesy of Darius Baužys/Flickr
- Common pond skaters can jump off the surface of the water and land a distance of up to 10 cm from where they were initially positioned; while mature adults develop wings and are able to fly.
- The front legs of common pond skaters can sense the minimal vibrations of prey that accidentally fall into the water, such as flying insects and larvae that they consume.
- Common pond skaters are covered in minuscule, waxy hairs that keep them waterproof by trapping air bubbles, which is vital if the pond skater is to remain buoyant.
- The eggs of common pond skaters will typically hatch some 12 to 14 days after being laid, though this is reliant on the water temperature, and sometime after hatching, the larvae go through a process of metamorphosis.
- Common pond skaters are most commonly seen during the warmer months, and they hibernate on land throughout the winter season.