How to identify pond wildlife

12 species for you to look for on your next pond-dipping adventure.

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All illustrations by Felicity Rose Cole

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1

Whirligig beetle Gyrinus substriatus (above)

Predator and scavenger. One of several small black beetle species that whizz about on the surface.

2

Pond skater Gerris lacustris

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Predator and scavenger. Glides across surface on long legs. Flies well; rapidly colonises new ponds.

3

Great water boatman Notonecta glauca

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Predator and scavenger; also known as the backswimmer. Rows under surface with oar-like legs.

4

Water scorpion Nepa cinerea

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A predatory bug with huge pincers and a long ‘sting’ (a breathing siphon). Lurks in weedy margins.

5

Great pond snail Lymnaea stagnalis

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Grazes algae and rotting matter. The largest pond snail; shell up to 50mm long, tapering sharply.

6

Midge larvae Chironomus species

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Feed on algae and decaying matter. Also known as bloodworms due to their bright red coloration.

7

Damselfly Nymph Various species

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Predator. Slender body, about 20mm long; three long, flattened ‘tails’ at the end of abdomen.

8

Leech Glossiphonia complanata

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Feeds on water snails. Body 30mm long when extended; pale grey or fawn with yellow spots.

9

Great ramshorn snail Planorbis corneus

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Grazes algae and rotting matter. The largest of several similar species; shell 30–35mm across.

10

Dragonfly nymph (various species)

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Predator; especially fond of tadpoles. Very fat, stocky body, about 40mm long; lacks ‘tails’.

11

Water hog-louse Asellus aquaticus

Feeds on decaying matter; also known as the water slater. Looks like a leggy woodlouse.

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12

Common black diving beetle Agabus bipustulatus

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Predator. Shiny black body, 10mm long; red antennae and front legs.