Wednesday, 14 October 2015

Day 334 - Wonderfully Bonny Water Boatmen

Greater Water Boatman or Backswimmer at Lake Gormire
Hey everyone today's Day 334 and after the excitement of Day 333 I thought I would kind of calm it down with something relatively similar to the Pondskater of yesterday. Now, when I say quite similar, that's not strictly true. They are the same sort of creature in that they live on ponds, swim and are quite small, but from my research I now know they are actually quite different to pond skaters. Now, I've seen these in lots of places but bizarrely it seems I've never taken many pictures of them. The one good shot I've got for today is from Lake Gormire in the lovely North York Moors National Park. From the picture and the title you'll know that I am talking about Water Boatmen.

So, here are the facts:

  • Firstly, Water Boatmen look very different from Pondskaters. They only have two long legs which look like two 'oars' on them.
  • Secondly, Water Boatmen are long and thin and Pondskaters are very spider-like. So, there's the easy guide of how to tell them apart. When I was younger I personally couldn't tell them apart.
  • They are found widely across the UK. I found a map showing where Callicorixa praeusta are found  and weirdly in this species there are the most sightings in the centre of the UK, hardly at all in the North of Scotland, and South-West of England. 
  • They aren't found much in Wales or Ireland it seem. Of course this could be because there is a lack of ponds. That would be interesting to find out. 
  • There are actually 500 species of Water Boatmen in the world. As many species look quite similar in the UK they have mostly been grouped as Lesser and Greater Water Boatmen.
  • Recently the Greater Water Boatman have started to be called Backswimmers as they, perhaps unsuprisingly, swim on their backs. Lesser Water Boatmen swim on their fronts.
  • They are actually seen commonly around the whole year. I think this a first for any species of insect or bug that I have done. 
  • Now. Water Boatmen are much smaller that Pondskaters. They are only about 12mm long at the largest. That's pretty small.
  • Now, being so small, they'll only be able to eat small things. That's why they are seen mostly eating Plant debris and algae.
  • Also, being so small, they will be eaten by Fish, Birds and other things of this manner. That's something to be scared of in an open pond.
  • Going back to the start of my facts, it, like the Pondskater, can actually fly. I mean, how else do they get distributed to around the UK?
  • Now, I said yesterday that Pondskaters are like ducks, even though they can't swim but walk on water instead, Today I am likening the Water Boatman to Moths as Water Boatmen are attracted to light. 
  • Unlike Pondskaters that spend most of their time on the surface. Water Boatmen spend most of their time under water, interesting then that they breathe air!
  • They stay underwater and can still breathe by taking a bubble of air with them. This would make them float so to stay under they have to grab onto a rock or something under water.
  • Now, their lifecycle. They have what is quite simple one, but it is sort of like the Shield Bug's. The adult lays the eggs and they then hatch. They molt 3 times growing each time. They then turn into the adult and the cycle begins again.
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. Amazing photo, I love spotting these little guys on ponds! - Tasha