Common Pond Skater

Look closely at most slow moving or still, freshwater surfaces across the UK and you are likely to see these amazing, water skating insects gliding across the surface!

Fast Facts

Latin name: Gerris lacustris

Notable feature: brown/black elongated body up to 15mm in length with six long legs (though its front legs are often tucked up so not immediately apparent). They have small heads with large eyes.

Rarity in the UK: Rare / Common

Where in the UK: Throughout UK When to see : April – November (Adults) June to August (Nymphs)

(c) Roger Key

Common pond skaters are predatory insects which use water repellent hairs on their feet to ‘skate’ across water surfaces to catch their prey. Sensitive hairs on their body and legs detect the vibrations caused by the movements of other small insects upon the water surface. Once it has detected this movement the Pond skater uses its middle legs like a pair of oars to propel itself across the water where it will then grasp its prey with its front legs. The hairs on the pond skaters body are also useful for trapping air bubbles which ensure it stays buoyant even if it finds itself temporarily submerged.

There are actually ten different species of Pond skater across the UK with the Common pond skater living up to its name and being the most prevalent. Adult pond skaters are good fliers and quick to colonise new water habitats such as your garden pond! Pond skaters that have hatched towards the end of Summer/beginning of Autumn will hibernate during the winter months before re-emerging in the spring to lay its eggs. It will take six weeks for the pond skater to complete its lifecycle from egg to adult and they can then live for up to 6 months.