Unpolluted water supports a large variety of insect life - described by ecologists as "clean water organisms". Many of these animals are easily spotted just by looking carefully into the water or watching the bankside vegetation.
Dragonflies and Damselflies (which may be seen here from about June to September) are closely related but can you tell the difference? Watch until one lands on something: dragonflies always rest with their wings spread, while damselflies always close theirs. Damselflies are generally more slender, and the bright blue ones found around these ponds seem suddenly to appear when the sun comes out.
By far the greater part of their lives is spent under water. Both dragonfly and damselfly larvae (called 'nymphs') are rather drab under-water creatures, but from them emerge the beautiful adult insects - sometimes, when conditions are right, in large numbers.
Stand quietly at the water's edge and watch the water surface carefully. Every now and then you may see small black and silver insects 'swim' quickly up to the surface for air, and then dive for cover again. These are waterboatmen. They hold air under their wings, and because they are so light they cling to submerged vegetation. These little insects can fly quite well - they dart through the water, break the surface and then fly away!
At the water's edge, among the Water forget-me-not and the Yellow Iris is found the Pond-skater This insect actually uses the surface film to travel on. Using its long legs it 'runs' quickly out to grab dead or dying insects on which it feeds.
Caddis flies are a very numerous group of insects: the species found in Soudley Ponds will only live in very clean water. They spend their early lives under water as larvae inside specially constructed 'cases', crawling along the bottom and feeding on other animals.
Much of the activity goes unnoticed, deep inside the thick beds of Canadian pondweed. This quick-growing aquatic plant was first recorded in Britain in 1846 on the Grand Union Canal near Market Harborough, and since then has spread rapidly to almost every still water in England.
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