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Corixa Puncata – Lesser Water Boatman to Me and You.

21st Nov 2019

Who are they?

Treasured by pond keepers the Lesser Water Boatman is an insect that all nature lovers love to see in their pond. This long hairy hind legged brown bug uses its back legs as paddles, it’s short middle legs as stabilizers and its very short front legs for scooping up food. These insects are very common in Britain and will be found in most weedy garden ponds, also in slow moving rivers and lakes. They do actually spend most of their lives swimming nearer the bottom of the water level, only coming up to renew their air supply. They have developed a neat little trick to prolong their time under water though, they can actually carry a bubble of air around with them under water, pretty clever!

These insects are found all year throughout the UK and are very strong fliers, they can do what is called a Sprint start, this allows them to speed through the water and straight into flight! Being such strong fliers means they will migrate if overwintering conditions begin to get too harsh.


The female Lesser Boatman is an egg layer who will lay her eggs onto plants, rocks and weeds from around January to April, as the adults do overwinter as previously mentioned. To court a female the male Water Boatman will play a romantic tune by rubbing its front legs on a ridge on their head. It takes around 3 to 4 months for the insects to fully hatch, which usually happens around July.


Not huge eaters due to their size, a fully grown adult is only really up to around 12mm maximum. They feed on a diet of plant debris and algae.


Being small insects that fly, they are liable to be eaten as a tasty snack by many predators that you will find around your pond including fish and birds. What is lesser known though is that they are eaten as part of a snack by Mexicans who consider them a delicacy, though I am pretty sure the ones in your pond should be safe from that particular fate.