Dipping for sub-aquatic beasties

Wednesday, August 8th 2018

On today's Pond Dipping - Discover the Depths! event we were running all three dipping platforms for the first time this year.

Our 22 strong group of Pond Dippers found all manner of things, including various beetle larvae, fish, midge nymphs, water boatman, dragonfly and damselfly nymphs, pond skaters, whirligig beetles and two Great Diving Beetles.  

Great Diving Beetles undergo complete metamorphosis, meaning that they have a four staged life cycle; egg, larva, pupa and adult, with some living for up to 3 years in their adult form!

If you cast your mind back to the 11th June I mentioned that the Great Diving Beetle larvae was a 'fierce predator', the same can certainly be said of the adult form, which will also hunt smaller invertebrates, tadpoles and small fish.

Aquatic beetles began colonising the land having evolved over millions of years, and as such still rely on atmospheric oxygen, returning to the surface of the pond to replenish their supply of air which they store beneath hardened fore wings (elytra) which also serve to protect their membranous hind wings. 

Despite being so heavily armoured adult Great Diving Beetles are able to fly, and will do so when colonising new ponds. They will do this when competition for food is too high, in order to search for mates, or to find more suitable habitat.

It is plausible that a few adults many have chosen the bottom pond on the Scrapes because it is deeper and so less likely to freeze all the way to the bottom in winter, allowing them to hibernate in the plant matter and detritus at the bottom.

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