Pond life throws itself at my car

Posted by Graeme Lyons , Friday 10 September 2010 16:30

I have been working from home today so I have some natural history from a month ago for you. As we returned to the car park after seeing the Wartbiters back on the 8th August, a big insect landed on the windscreen and Jo alerted me to it. I could see that it was a backswimmer (an aquatic true bug), one of the Notonecta sp. but it was not one I had seen before. I took a photo and retained the specimen and have just got around to keying it out. There are four species in the genus. Most Notonecta species are larger than the water boatmen (Corixidae) but more strikingly, their back legs are much longer than their middle legs (with water boatmen the legs are roughly the same length) and they have a bigger rostrum. There are four species of Notonecta and this one keyed out to be Notonecta maculata. This species has mottled hemielytra and an orange metanotum with two black spots (this is just visible in the photo under the hemielytron that is raised).

Interestingly, it was a really hot day and we were parked in a fairly isolated car park. I have had two other incidents this year when water beetles have appeared on or near dark cars parked in very isolated spots (heathland and chalk-grassland). I imagine that on hot days these guys fly around looking for another pond and a dark car just about fits the bill if you have poor eyesight. This is species 2834, 166 to go to 3000!

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