The common pond skater is the most widespread British bug. It is brownish-black in colour, with a narrow body. The forelegs are short and used for grasping and holding prey. The middle and hind legs are long and slender; the hind pair are used as 'rudders', while the middle pair of legs are used to propel the bug along the surface of the water (3) with either a rowing or a jumping motion (4). All true bugs have sucking mouthparts, known as a rostrum or 'beak' (3); this pond skater has a short, powerful rostrum (2). Both winged and wingless forms occur; in winged pond skaters the wings are held folded flat against the body (3).
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