Are backswimmers dangerous?

Here's Clive or Peter proving that backswimmers don't bite!

Proving backswimmers are harmless!

Backswimmers are predators that eat other small animals.

They will eat tadpoles (its one of the things that tadpoles are for!), and small fish but mostly they feed on other invertebrates. In my pond I expect they’re mainly eating mayflies and water fleas.

They are a natural part of the fauna of all but the smallest, most temporary, pond. In bigger ponds they’ll hide themselves away to keep out of sight of fish – for which they make a tasty meal.

If you pick them up they can give you a bit of a nip. They have a ‘beak’ that can pierce skin and inject a digesting saliva – it’s how they kill their prey. Its no worse than a bee sting, and only happens if you handle them (and then not always – as you can see from the picture).

They fly from pond to pond – so if you remove them, more will fly back.

If they pop into a swimming pool you don’t need to worry about them – they won’t chase you down deliberately to give you a bite – they’ll be trying to keep out of your way.


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