Pond, Wildlife

The boatman and the ladybird

As per much gardenwatching over the years, unexpected sightings often happen when the focus is on something else. Last Sunday, a morning check on the wildlife pond frogspawn didn’t just reveal a thin layer of ice (which was a worry). Here’s the real wildlife drama in pictures…

Early morning frost leaves ice along the pond edge where the frogspawn sits.
Across from the frogspawn, is this a new pond creature with an orange patch? No, the strong sunlight confused things, looking through the camera zoom, a greater water boatman/backswimmer has a hold of a ladybird!
Snapping a few zoom shots, cropped here, clearly revealed a ladybird had been caught and was being held by a boatman and it was still moving!
The boatman and the ladybird slowly spun around the surface of the water.
Did the boatman get bored? Did it get disturbed by my camera clicking? Whatever the reason, the ladybird was left floating on the water surface.
Having seen, through my camera lens, that the ladybird’s legs were moving, I picked off a pond edge bergenia leaf and scooped the ladybird out. It remained still for a bit looking like it had never been near water at all.
Slowly the ladybird began moving, it turned around and headed up over the leaf. This cropped image shows how soggy it still was. Was it going to survive?
I have no idea, but this seven-spot ladybird knew where it was heading now. Had my camera lens just discovered it, I would have had no idea of the drama. This ladybird looks completely well and at home in it’s environment.

Watching the new wildlife environment that can be found in a garden pond has become quite fascinating. We have much to learn about it’s current inhabitants and with each one we want to know more. I can’t recommend having a garden pond highly enough, it would be just brilliant if sharing our discoveries resulted in other garden ponds being built. What a fabulous boost for wildlife that would be 🙂

Wishing you a great weekend in your garden, wildlife and pond watching too. We are still waiting on our first hedgehog sightings but the weeds are well underway and in need of attention. Garden works involving cameras are ongoing too 🙂

Below is some info on the water boatman. I have also read that where the greater boatman is carnivorous the lesser boatman is smaller and isn’t, nor does it swim on its back. My guess is that our ladybird had wandered on to a sunny, pond edge pebble or rock where a boatman/backswimmer was and that’s where it got caught. I hope it had a happy ending.

”The Common Backswimmer, also known as the ‘Water Boatman’, is widespread and common in ponds, ditches and canals across the UK. It can swim upside-down through the water, often near the surface where it grabs insects that have fallen into the water film. It is an active and voracious predator, hunting many smaller invertebrates, tadpoles and small fish. Sensing the vibrations of its prey, it charges at it with lightning speed and stabs it with its ‘beak’, injecting toxic saliva into the wound so it can suck out the contents of the body. Common Backswimmers mate between December and May, laying eggs from February onwards. The larvae go through a number of moults before reaching adulthood.”

“The Common Backswimmer is light brown with large, reddish eyes. It has powerful, oar-like hind legs, which it uses as paddles when it swims upside-down. Its body resembles the shape of a boat, hence its other common name. It may have a silvery appearance due to trapped air bubbles on its lower surface, which allow it to breathe.”

The Wildlife Trusts, Common Backswimmer

This post was published by Shirley for shirls gardenwatch in April 2019.

12 thoughts on “The boatman and the ladybird

  1. Thank you for saving the ladybird ! And thank you for your BBC stone skimming recommendation , my husband and I loved it .

  2. That was fascinating. Well done for capturing some great shots. I’m glad that the ladybird survived those seven spots need all the help they can get.

  3. Hello Gabriele, thanks for stopping by and your kind comment 🙂 I enjoy getting out in the garden with my camera when I can and enjoy the surprises there to capture 🙂

  4. Hello Linda, thanks for stopping by! I'm hoping that ladybird wandered away to dry out properly, unharmed by it's experience. It seems that the boatman stings its prey, maybe it didn't succeed with this ladybird. I'm delighted to hear of someone following the link to watch the stone skimming and enjoyed it as much as we did 🙂

  5. Hello Sue, this really was a weird encounter. The strong light over the pond made the ladybird look orange and the spots weren't noticed at all. Together with my distance from the boatman I genuinely thought I was looking at a new pond creature! It was only when it turned and I saw my zoomed images that I realised what I was seeing I thought the ladybird was a goner until I saw a couple of movements of a leg but even then I wasn't sure it was going to walk away from this. The strong sunlight helped my photos. Yes, no matter how small, all wildlife in trouble needs saving

  6. I agree Anna, what a surprise find with a camera in my hand at the time – not always the case either. Yes, I do hope that ladybird did survive too 🙂

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