Typical Insects in Backyard Ponds

Although insect larvae live primarily in backyard ponds, adult insects are frequently near or on ponds’ water, seeking a place to lay eggs or feed. The record of insects you may see in California ponds is quite long, but a few common insect species often are found close to almost any backyard aquatic atmosphere.


Mayflies can be found around the fresh running water of garden ponds all over the world except in the Arctic and Antarctic, and they’re a part of the order Ephemeroptera. Adult mayflies are short-lived insects which die after mating. The nymphs vary in shape depending on their habitat. As an example, burrowing mayflies have cylindrical bodies, the ones that slide beneath stones are horizontal, and the ones that crawl stones and vegetation have short bodies using squat legs. Mayflies have two adult stages, and they’re the only insects to have a winged immature stage. At the first adult stage, mayflies are sexually immature and their wings are covered with tiny hairs. At the second adult stage, their wings are shiny and clear.

Damselflies and Dragonflies

Dragonflies and damselflies are both part of the order Odonata and have membranous wings and long, thin abdomens. The nymphs of both kinds of these insects live in ponds, marshes and slow moving streams. Dragonflies and damselflies are distinguished by their large, compound eyesthat provide them nearly 360-degree vision. Dragonfly larvae can be differentiated from damselfly larvae in their broad to oval abdomens. Both insect types have two pairs of elongated, membranous wings, each of which has a strong cross-vein, but a dragonfly’s rear wings have a larger base and are bigger than the front pair of wings. Both pairs of damselfly wings are similar in shape and size, making damselflies fly slower than dragonflies.

Water Striders

The common water strider (Hemiptera) resembles a giant, wingless mosquito which walks on the surface of water. Growing to just over 1/2 inch long, with a long, dark-brown or dark body, a water strider has six legs. The front legs are shorter than the back legs, along with the legs’ shape combined with the insect’s light weight enables the water strider to wander over the surface of water without dropping during the water. Water striders feel other creatures by vibrations in the water, and they move continuously to avoid predators. They eat dead and living insects which are on the water. Female water striders put eggs at the water’s edge, typically on plant stems.


Mosquitoes are a part of the order Diptera and are commonly found about bodies of water, like ponds, marshes and slow moving streams. Mosquito larvae live and feed in water. Several mosquito species have been observed around California ponds, but just a few are major vectors of infection, including the Northern house mosquito (Culex pipiens, Culex quinquefasciatus), the Western encephalitis mosquito (Culex tarsalis), along with the Tule mosquito (Culex erythrothorax).

Craneflies and Midges

Craneflies are in the family Tipulidae, which is part of the order Diptera. They resemble big mosquitoes, although they don’t bite. Cranefly larvae are a major food source for pond fish. Midges can also be a part of the order Diptera, but they’re in the Chironomidae family. They’re a small, flying insect, the pillars of which live in the bottom sediments of ponds, lakes and streams. Midge larvae feed on smaller larvae, decaying matter and microbes, and they’re a valuable part of a pond’s food site.

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