Common Pondskater - Gerris lacustris

Alternative names
Pondskater
Description

Approximately 8-10mm, generally brown with a black pronotum and black antennae. There are several similar-looking species of pondskaters, of which this is the commonest and most likely to be found in a garden pond, but examination of a specimen is needed to be sure of the species.

Similar Species

Gerris thoracisus has a pale brown pronotum (as do two other Gerris species). G. gibbifer and G. odontogaster share the black pronotum and antennae and look very similar but can be separated by the extent of the black markings on the inside of the front femur (less than two thirds in G. lacustris).

Identification difficulty
ID guidance
  • c10mm
  • Black pronotum and dark overall
  • Dark antennae
  • Black markings on the inside of the front femur don't extend more than two thirds the length
Recording advice

A specimen needs to be examined. Please explain how you identified this species.

Habitat

Pools and ponds, including garden ponds.

When to see it

Adults all year round peaking April to October.

Life History

Pondskaters have very long legs and water-repellent feet which they use to skim across the surface tension 'film' of the water. They are quickly attracted to movement in the surface film, such as the struggles of a non-aquatic insect that has fallen into the water. The pondskater will then 'row' across the water at high speed to investigate and secure its prey, using its front legs to grasp the victim. It flies well as an adult and quickly colonises a newly created garden pond. Nymphs: June to August.

UK Status

Common and found throughout Britain.

VC55 Status

Common in Leicestershire and Rutland.

Leicestershire & Rutland Map

MAP KEY:

Yellow squares = NBN records (all known data)
Coloured circles = NatureSpot records: 2020+ | 2015-2019 | pre-2015

UK Map