Pond Dipping

Pond Dipping

A healthy pond should be full of plant, animal and microbial life. Pond dips are a great way for you to explore what lives in the water.

Ponds are important habitats for different organisms and can be an endless source of interest, as well as a valuable resource for learning about biodiversity, classification and life cycles.

Things you might need:

Pond net, fine kitchen sieve or tights on the end of a stick!
Magnifying glass or camera with zoom
Spoon or tea strainer

Activity details:

Age: 8+
Difficulty: Medium
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Running time: 1 hour

Learning points:

How to perform a pond dip
What species live around you
How to care for different species
The names of different animal groups

How to perform a pond dip:

  1. At the pond, fill your containers half up with pond water and put them away from the edge of the pond.
  2. Use the net to sweep a figure of eight pattern in the pond. Try to avoid the sediment at the bottom of the pond and the weeds at the top, as these will make finding creatures in your net harder. Try dipping in sheltered spots - perhaps near the edge - as more bugs live there.
  3. Sweep briefly for 10-15 seconds, then take the net out of the water to your largest container.
  4. Turn the net inside out into the container - you may need to swish the net under the water to remove particularly stubborn bugs!
  5. Use a spoon or tea strainer to examine your catch, moving interesting creatures to smaller containers.

Identification can be carried out by the pond using a field guide or by using an app like iNaturalist. It can also be done later at home using photographs you have taken with research from books or online.

Take care!

We don’t need to tell you to keep eyes on children at all times, but it’s also very important to keep their hands out of their mouths, eyes and faces in general.

Provide plenty of water for the bugs and keep them cool or they will die.

Always treat any creature carefully and place them back where you found them. Leave any spawn in the pond.

Frog Life Cycle
The frog life cycle, illustrated in Merian, Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium (1726).

How to take your investigation further...

Record what creatures you find with as much detail as you can. Things to take note of include:

  • The date
  • Exact location
  • Method of capture
  • Weather conditions
  • Species caught and how many
  • General site information such as size, shape and place of pond and surrounding environment (e.g. open field vs woodlands, in the shade etc.)