Predation at the Pond

Pond Skater and mayfly Pond Skater 2

There has recently been an emergence of mayflies. These little winged insects aren’t just restricted to the month of May; one species or another can be on the wing throughout the summer. Mayflies are well known for their short adult life; some emerge in the evening and are dead by the next morning, existing in the adult form for the sole purpose of reproduction. I found several on the surface of a pond which were either spent, or had become trapped on the surface tension of the water. If they attempt to free themselves their struggling movements attract the attention of predatory pond skaters. Pond skaters use their feet to feel the water surface tension for the vibrations of struggling prey. They have specialised mouthparts in the shape of a tube, the rostrum. Pond skaters inject digestive enzymes into their prey and then suck out the resulting juices through their rostrum. The pond has as much action and gore as any horror film!

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