culicine larva

Before I began to write this I thought, shall I just leave folk guessing what this is? Maybe I will, or … we will see …

It is taken from quite an unusal angle, and I suppose it looks like some kind of unusual golden screw with spikes or hairs radiating outwards. Yet it is a living organism. You cannot see any eyes because they are out of shot, which doesn’t really help much, does it?

There are quite a number of these organisms swimming in my garden pond at the moment forming one of the basis of its ecosystem.

Okay, it is a culicine larva, otherwise known as gnat or mosquito larva. I believe they feed on the algae in the pond. They hang from the surface of the water at an odd angle and breathe oxygen through a tube near the tip of the abdomen. They are amongst the very first creatures to colonise a pond, and they provide food for other life forms to thrive.

Rear garden pond, Staffordshire, England. July 2017.

Pond Life

This is life from the garden pond, and some of the life forms that have appeared there since I built it back in May of this year.

I only have a small back garden, so the pond had to be small, but I managed to plant some marginal plants and some underwater oxygenating plants to try to help keep it balanced and healthy.

The first to appear were the Culicine mosquito larvae, a few at first and then the waters began to teem with them. They appeared to be feeding on algae which had soon taken hold on the rocks and stones. I generally find the larvae hanging from the surface of the water at an angle as they breathe air through a tube near the tip of the abdomen.

The mosquito larvae attracted predacious beetle larvae like the Great Diving Beetle (Dytiscus Marginalis) as seen below. I photographed this in the shallows as it fed on a mosquito larva. It is in an eraly stage of development.

The mosquito larvae soon changed into pupae in readiness for the adult flies, completing the insect cycle, which in warm weather, and from egg to adult, can take just two weeks. These pupae do not feed, but move rapidly through the water in jerking motions to avoid predation.

I saw tiny silvery beetles crawling over the flat stones in the shallows. I believe this is a Laccobius species, which are mainly scavengers.

There were insect in the air also, damselflies and hoverflies circled and landed to investigate this new waterhole. The hoverfly below is called the Sun Fly (Helophilus pendulus), and has become a regular visitor.

Rat-tailed maggots appeared in the water, larvae of a fly similar to the above, with long tales which helps them breath underwater. They feed on decaying matter.

A water boatman nymph, coloured like amber, was seen swimming beneath the surface of the water. It is called the Lesser Water Boatman (Corixa punctata).

I feel very lucky and privileged to have witnessed life take a hold in the garden pond, and will look forward to the coming days, months and years to see what else I may discover.