Wonderful Watery Worlds

Wonderful Watery Worlds: Wonders of the Pond

By Sandi Funke, Education Director

The water strider walks the shine
Where air and water form a line.
What’s up above? What’s down below?
It never has the chance to know.

– Poem from the book All Eyes on the Pond by Michael J. Rosen

Photo by Pepperwood TeenNat Intern Zelia Harger.

What is your favorite day of work each year? Is it the annual work picnic? Is it a day you get to attend a special conference or meeting? My favorite day of the whole year is Summer Camp Pond Day. It is the day I roll up my pant legs and wade into the cool shallow waters of Pepperwood’s pond as we explore everything around us. As I trudge forward into its waters, bathed in the glorious aroma of the invasive yet fragrant pennyroyal, I am always bewitched by the sights of creatures big and small.

Turtle Pond is Pepperwood’s natural seasonal pond. As one of the few places at Pepperwood with standing water, it serves as a refuge for a wonderful assemblage of water loving plants and creatures. For many years, researchers have been interested in the pond for the role it plays in supporting our local amphibians and reptiles. In addition to frogs, garter snakes, and Western pond turtles, the pond harbors many fine—and sometimes seemingly fearsome—invertebrates specially adapted for this watery realm.

Photo by Pepperwood TeenNat Intern Mary Young.

Photo by Kim Cabrera.

One very common water insect you might see is a water strider. Water striders, also called water skaters, have a thin oval body shaped a bit like a rice kernel. Their most amazing feature is their six long, giraffe like legs. Using surface tension and their spindly legs, the insects are actually suspended on the top of the water! These skinny insects have an appetite for insects smaller than themselves, especially unfortunate creatures who may be having a hard time swimming. Learn more about water striders here.

The alluring dragonfly is another visitor to our ponds. This vibrant aerial acrobat bears four elegant deeply veined wings, an elongated body, and two over-sized eyes that call to mind ski goggles. The adults hover above the water hunting for food. The female adults lay their eggs in water or aquatic vegetation. The juveniles that live in the pond waters feed on other smaller insects. As they get bigger, some growing dragonflies can even eat tadpoles and small fish. What an appetite! Learn more about dragonflies here.

Photo by Pepperwood TeenNat Intern Daisy Palacios.

Water World! The Lives and habits of the “mini-monsters”
Saturday, May 12, 2018 at Pepperwood

Community members will have a unique opportunity to explore Pepperwood’s ponds in our upcoming class Water World! The lives and habits of the “mini-monsters.” Taught by author and immanent naturalist Frederique Lavoipierre, participants will have a chance to get up close and personal with all the residents of our aqueous habitats. Learn more and register here.

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