Insects of the Canal

A List of some of the insects we found by the Grand Canal.
Dragonflies and Damselflies
Wall Brown Butterfly
Water Boatman
Click on any of the above insects to go directly to a description.


Characteristics of Insects

1. An insects body has three main parts - the head, the thorax and the abdomen.

2. Insects breathe through tiny air holes (spiracles) along the sides of their bodies.

3. Insects have three pairs of legs i.e. six legs.

1. Dragonflies and Damselflies
Dragonflies are larger and stronger that damselflies. They rest with their wings outstretched. Their wings are not coupled (joined together) so they are better at flying and have greater manoeuvrability in the air. They can reach speeds of up to 30km. per hour. Baby dragonflies are called nymphs and live in the canal bed eating insects, tadpoles, worms and even small fish.

Damselflies are smaller in size than dragonflies. They rest with their wings folded behind them and their wings are coupled (joined) so they are not as skilful at flying as dragonflies.



The Brown Hawker Dragonfly has a brown body and gets its name from its habit of hawking its territory. It flies up and down patrolling its patch of canal ready to attack any intruders. The Common Blue Damselfly has a pretty sky blue body and is commonly found along canal banks. The male Emerald Damselfly is bright green when young and has powdery blue patches when older. The female will stay green even as an adult. The male Banded Demoiselle has a metallic blue body. The female has a metallic green body but will become bronze with age.

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2. Cinnibar Moth
The Cinnibar moth has red markings and flies in grassy places along the canal from May to July. It is nocturnal which means it flies at night.



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3. Wall Brown Butterfly
The Wall Brown Butterfly feeds on nectar from the purple Buddelia flower on the canal bank. It uses its long tongue called a probiscus to suck up nectar. Its caterpillars are a blue-green colour with dark green and white stripes along their bodies.



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4. Pond Skater
The Pond Skater is 12cm. long and "skates" around the surface of the water. Its feet have tiny hairs which repel (push away) the water and stop the insect sinking. Its hind legs are used as a rudder (to steer) and front legs are used to catch tiny insects.




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5. Water Boatman
The Water Boatman swims just under the surface of the canal water. Its middle and hind legs are the same length. It rows along on its back using its large back legs - hence the name Water Boatman. Courting males "sing" loudly to their girlfriends by rubbing their front legs against their heads. They can also give a nasty nip!



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6. Whirligig Beetles
These small black beetles swim in groups spinning around on the water surface. They have two pairs of eyes for seeing above and below the water.





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Ms. Lambe's 4th class provided the information for this page.