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Ponds have a huge variety of amazing little creatures just waiting to be discovered. So nets and magnifying glasses at the ready! Let’s go pond dipping.

Pond dipping kit – what you need

There are a few items you’ll need to catch and study pond creatures, but you don’t need to buy special equipment. In fact, most of the things you need you probably already have at home.

  • A net – don't worry if you don't have one, we have instructions to make your own below
  • A light-coloured shallow tray or container
  • A few spoons
  • A magnifying glass
  • A notebook to record your findings
  • A camera or phone to take pictures

 

Where to go pond dipping

If you happen to have a garden with a pond, great! But if not, there might a pond in a park or other green space not too far away. Some parks and nature reserves even have special pond dipping platforms and run activity sessions where you can have a go. Look online to see if there are any near you. Remember to get permission before you dip, and check out information boards for fun facts and important advice.

How to pond dip

First, scoop some pond water into your container. Then lie on your front or kneel by the side of the pond  – don’t lean too far over the edge or there’s a chance you’ll fall in. Sweep your net slowly through the water – a figure of eight shape works best. Try not to stir up the mud at the bottom as that will make it hard to see anything.

Lift up your net and carefully turn it inside out so anything you’ve caught drops into your container. You can use your spoon to scoop up any creatures for a closer look. Don’t pick them up with your hands – they’ll be very tiny and you could accidentally hurt them.

When you’re done studying your pond life, carefully pour the water from your container back into the pond and make sure all of the creatures are safely returned.

Always remember to clean your kit when you've finished to avoid spreading bacteria or invasive species.

What to look for

Counting the legs of any creepy crawlies you find can help you identify it. Leeches and bright red bloodworms don’t have any legs of course. Water beetles, backswimmers and pond skaters all have six legs; water spiders and water mites have eight legs; and waterlice have 6 pairs of legs!

Don’t forget to look for wildlife around the pond too. You might see dragonflies whizzing past, hear frogs and toads croaking, or see a family ducks waddling about. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a heron swooping down for its fish supper!

How to make a net

It's easy to make your own net from items around your home. You will need:

  • an old pair of tights
  • a wire coat hanger
  • a strong stick
  • a stapler
  • some strong sticky tape.
  1. Bend the coat hanger into a circle to make the rim of the net.
  2. Wrap the waistband of the tights over the wire and staple them into place.
  3. Cut the legs off the tights and tie up the holes.
  4. Finally, straighten the hook of your coat hanger and wind it around a stick, then secure it with sticky tape. Make sure it's firmly attached so it doesn't fall in the water.

Safety tips

Pond dipping is hugely exciting for children, but exploring water does have risks so it’s important to be vigilant.

  • Make sure you are always supervising your child while pond dipping.
  • Ensure children exercise caution around the water and don't lean too far over.
  • Never enter the water if you drop something – the pond may be deeper than it looks.
  • Pond water contains bacteria, so make sure any cuts are covered by watertight plasters. Always wash hands thoroughly after this activity.

 

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