Sunday, April 5, 2009

Have you seen...

Avey's Run
Cincinnati Nature Center

Have you seen the dance,
quickly back and forth, over pools of quiet water on a sunny afternoon—
of strangely patterned shadows skipping onto rocks below,
slender dancers resting at the surface?


Water striders, insects in the family Gerridae, float and skate on top of still and slow-moving water, their feet wrapped in small cushions of air, trapped between tiny hairs (microsetae) covering their 6 legs. The second and third pairs, almost twice as long as the insect itself, row and steer, never breaking the surface, while the smaller first pair grabs and holds prey to be pierced and sucked dry for dinner.

The patterned shadows, dark circles rimmed in gold, of a mating pair, or the feet of just one--
suspended upon this illuminated stage.

(click photos to enlarge)






Water Strider and Shadow

"Have you seen...." is an effort to discover the unusual beauty in things not usually appreciated for their beauty. Like bugs.

More information about the Water Strider's unique floating and skating ability can be found here.

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23 comments:

Annette said...

I've seen water striders before, but I have never paid attention to their patterned shadows. It's interesting how the oval-shaped shadows are created from the water's surface being so lightly touched. Great photography of something so small!

Mike Woodcock said...

Beautifully captured. Great to know that there are others out there who subscribe to my philosophy; There is beauty in the everyday if we only take the time to see it.

KatDoc said...

Wonderful, Nina! Reminds me of Charlie Harper's painting, "Jesus Bugs." You have a great eye.

[You can see this painting in "Beguiled by the Wild" if you go to Amazon at http://www.amazon.com/Beguiled-Wild-Art-Charley-Harper/dp/0962054372 and click "Search inside this book." Click the right scan arrow 3 times to view it.]

~Kathi

The-Grizzled-But-Still-Incorrigible-Scribe-Himself! said...

Just a neat post with such great photos. There is nothing "common" about the commonplace if we get to know it. A really excellent job!

KGMom said...

Nina--I love it! The photos are stunning--the shadows showing the trapped air bubbles (I presume).
I wonder how you get anything done at all--given the time it must take to see and photograph such wonders of nature. I have a mental image of you tramping around the wilds of Ohio all the time. ;-)

cestoady said...

Fascinating post !! And neat,very neat photos of the mating pair and dimpled surface bubbles on which these bugs float. Amazing how much scientific study and technology it takes to explain how they walk on water.

Lisa at Greenbow said...

No I have never seen this bug. What an interesting creature. I will be on the lookout for them in the future.

bobbie said...

They are so fascinating to watch.
Your first photo is very lovely.

Steve B said...

What a fun posting! I know the water striders from living on a brook and a lake in Vermont. This is an indication of a clean water source as I understand they do not tolerate pollution.

nina at Nature Remains. said...

It's not surprising that Charley Harper would choose water striders (also known as Jesus Bugs, pond skaters, skimmers,...) for his geometrically themed art. Thanks for the link, KatDoc! Their symmetrical shadows are just crying for a place on someone's wall!

And if you look closely, really zoom in on that first small shot, (the one just below the note "click photos...") you can see why I love to try to capture things like this with a camera.
What you'd never see, as they dart and weave, those dimpled, twisted spots where their feet contact the water's surface--prevent the sun's passing through--and translate to the dark circles and ellipses on the rocks below.
Wow.

Deborah Godin said...

Your photos are full of fool-the-eye moments - the striders' shadows and the water ripples and the distored underwater objects! Wonderful post!

NCmountainwoman said...

Absolutely fantastic photographs of the striders and shadows. I do love watching these Jesus bugs.

Cicero Sings said...

I had fun taking pictures of their shadows last summer/fall too. Such big shadows for such little bugs.

Hocking Hills Gardener said...

What fantastic photographs of the striders shadow on the water.When we
were kids we called them water skippers :)

Elisabeth's bright side said...

Thank you for showing, this was great pictures. You are really showing us pur nature moments. It was beautifully and artistic captured.

Charles said...

I loved this post Nina. I guess because it's always been easy for me to see the beauty in the natural world. Having 7 tarantulas for pets has taught me that beauty isn't always what other people would define as beauty. Sometimes beauty comes in different forms.

Laurie said...

Beautiful!!! Thanks for the post.

Laurie
http://ecoki.com

Mary said...

Yes, I have seen, Nina! I didn't what they were - you always notice their shadow first. I remember watching them dart and skid across the water for hours when I was a kid.

When I see a water strider, I'll think of you.

Mary

NovaS said...

oh wow, i have never seen like this before.. this is absolutely great...


btw, i like your blog would you want to exchange links with me? please message me if you want...

Susan Gets Native said...

Well, isn't that just the coolest thing ever?

Appalachian Lady said...

when I clicked on your blog and saw the photo--thought it was a drawing. It didn't look real. I have seen water striders but not the shadows so I will have to for them. Thanks for opening my eyes to something new.

Kathiesbirds said...

Your water is so clear! Love the words once again. I remember water striders well. Nice post!

Zhakee said...

Water strider shadows are interesting and so much more noticable than the insects themselves. Nice photos.