Ecology, Nature Photography

Backswimmer in the wake of a dragon

I never seem to understand the limitations of my eye-sight or reaction-time and today I’ve been trying to photograph dragon flies again.  I have many pictures of their wake — the disturbed but empty air just above the water where, just  recently, they were — but wait…  What is this?

?????????????????????????????Something lurking just below the surface — not clear enough to see.

?????????????????????????????Can you see what it is yet?  Sorry!  It’s what I call a water-boatman but when I look that up I find the term is ambiguous — it covers a multitude of sins — this needs clarification –I  rummage in the shed for a fishing net and plastic punnet — the one without holes and bingo!


It is a Back Swimmer (Notonectidae glauca) Known in Britain as the Greater Water Boatman.  It swims upside down (according to our prejudices) just below the surface of freshwater ponds, attracted to prey by the agitation of the water — the waves on the surface.  It has a nasty toxic bite and probably ate all our tadpoles.  It’s a proper bug and can haul itself through the surface and fly away though it didn’t when I hoicked it out to photograph it.  I think its eggs develop directly into adults.

What about the Lesser Water Boatman? I hear you ask.  He is called Corixa punctata — he swims the right way up near the bottom of the pond, is less agressive (a bit of a veggie)  but is otherwise quite similar unless you have a macro lens — I shall look for him tomorrow.


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