Great Diving Beetle in a small garden pond?

Well this article arrived just on the same day that Linda reported seeing an enormous flying beetle, shiny green coloured, in the back garden near our small pond. We identified the beetle as the great diving beetle and I knew that these insects are viscious predators, at least in the larval form. I’m not going to panic about loosing frog tadpoles though, or even fish fry. As far as I’m concerned if a great diving beetle chooses to use our small garden pond as a nursery for his aquatic offspring then we should be honoured to play host to such an auspicious example of native pond wildlife. I’m sure the frogs will manage to keep up their numbers one way or another.

Who’d be a tadpole?

Who’d be a tadpole?

Who’d be a tadpole?

By Jeremy Biggs

Larva of a great diving beetle feeding on a frog tadpole.

A common question we get at this time of the year is: “Where have my tadpoles gone?”

A common answer is probably provided by this picture from Pond Conservation member Carole Woodall who managed to capture what must be a common fate for many a tadpole. Indeed, it’s probably one of the main fates that nature intended!

And this is not the only way that our precious tadpoles get gobbled up: fish of course are regular frog tadpole eaters and so, to the surprise of many, are our innocent looking newts.

Now of course, almost every normal person loves newts – but not your average tadpole because a tadpole is basically a tasty newt snack.

A common course of events is:

– Pond lover makes pond, frogs arrive in year 1 or 2, pond lover very happy.

– Newts arrive in year 4 or 5, pond lover even happier.

– Tadpoles disappear, pond lover puzzled, calls Pond Conservation.

– Frog and newt lover discovers newts eat tadpoles and realises newts not quite so cuddly as previously thought.

– Pond lover becomes older and slightly wiser!

But it’s not all one-way traffic: our clever little frogs have learnt (excuse the anthropomorphism) to steer clear of the nasty newts, and other predators.

Tadpoles can sense the presence of backswimmers and dragonfly larvae, and take avoiding action.

They can also sense fish too.

Although many may still perish, if you are one of the few that gets through, that’s all that matters.

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