In a shallow stream near Warbler Bridge, multiple wonders of nature were readily visible. There were tadpoles, frogs, fish and Water Striders. Frogs go through the metamorphosis from eggs laid in the water, to tadpoles that live in the water then to frogs that need the water but live on land (breathing air). All the tadpole to frog photographs (and fish and Water Strider) were taken within minutes in more or less a 5-foot x 5-foot section of the stream. Swimming with the tadpoles were small fish which hatch in the water and grow from tiny fish to much larger fish without the physical and functional transitions of metamorphosis. On the water’s surface were numerous Water Striders which also go through metamorphosis in their life cycle. On one sunny morning it was all there in the clear, shallow stream with a muddy bottom.
(From: https://blog.nature.org/science/2017/04/10/7-cool-facts-water-striders-skippers-pond-skaters-weird-nature/) Water strider legs are covered in thousands of microscopic hairs scored with tiny groves. As reported in National Geographic, “These groves trap air, increasing water resistance of the water’s striders legs and overall buoyancy of the insect.” Their legs are more buoyant than even ducks’ feathers. The buoyancy and paddling legs allows striders to be fast. Very, very fast. The National Geographic article reports striders are capable of “speeds of a hundred body lengths per second. To match them, a 6-foot-tall person would have to swim at over 400 miles an hour.” However, their legs are almost useless on hard surfaces.
If you watch a pond’s water striders long enough, you often see two water striders on top of one another. Yes, that’s what you think it is. However, females have evolved a “genital shield” to guard against unwanted males mating with them. The male water striders have coevolved a strategy so that the female is more likely to submit to advances. The male taps the water’s surface in a way attractive to aquatic predators. Since the female is beneath the male, and nearer the water, she will be the one first gobbled up by a fish or other hungry creature. Thus, it behooves the female to submit quickly and not deploy the shield (or “insect chastity belt,” as one reporter put it).
As a major segue, the Prairie Dock are blooming in the prairie and savanna as well as many other flowers.