You usually see backswimmers in the water – but not always.
Here is a spotted backswimmer (Notonecta maculata) climbing up the stem of a reed in my garden pond earlier this autumn.
Probably it was getting ready to fly off to another pond – though this time it was too cold for it to be able to take flight (being an insect it can only fly when the weather’s warm enough).
On warm days, wait a while beside your pond and you’ve a good chance of seeing backswimmers flying off from the pond – usually the early afternoon is the best time to see them buzzing away into the sky, or climbing onto one of the logs around the pond, before launching themselves into the air.
My pond has two different kinds of backswimmers – spotted and glaucous backswimmers Notonecta glauca). The difference between the two – the quantity of spots – is fairly obvious.
Thanks to Clive Briffet for this nice in the hand picture (Clive is being braver than the average person here: the backswimmer’s beak can pierce human skin and it does sting!).
There are two other species in Britain: the oblique backswimmer (Notonecta obliqua), which specialises in acid ponds, and the green backswimmer (Notonecta viridis).
By the way: I’ve made up these English names becuase at the moment we don’t have any common names for these animals. Any backswimmer fans who would like to improve on my attempts – your help would be much appreciated!