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Red Water Pompom: Hydrachna geographica

This morning, after a bit of garden work, preparing for the next batch of meat chicks, and filling the dehydrator with lovage, Mr. 17, Miss 9, and I went for a walk down the almost-dry river bed.   We took the dogs along, which was fine until Miss 9 wanted to catch tadpoles in one of the few puddles left in the river.  The dogs wanted to help her so I took them away to the next puddle where I settled down to wait and to watch Mr. 17 play with the panorama photo app on his new phone.

It didn’t take long before I started looking at the water striders, the wee striped minnows, and the one fat tadpole in ‘my’ puddle.  Among all the brown activity, I noticed a brilliant red ball, just over 1/16 inch in diameter.  It moved along slowly, burrowed under the sand, came up, swam a little distance, and hid under the sand again.  There were actually more of these scarlet pompoms, all doing the same thing under the busy world of the water striders, completely ignored by the minnows.

Here’s a picture Mr. 17 took.  Of course, his phone doesn’t work underwater, so it’s not the greatest shot, but you can see it starting to burrow under the sand at the bottom of the picture.

hydrachna geographica

As I peered into the water, I noticed the sand swirl around the tiny red pompom as it moved.  Probably it had legs.  “Must be a water insect,” I thought and checked it out in one of our guidebooks at home.

Sure enough, there it was on the first page I opened in our Pond Life Golden Nature Guide!  It’s actually a water mite (not an insect but of the same group as spiders) called hydrachna geographica and I found a beautiful picture of it online for you to enjoy.  It’s a pity you can’t see it move.

Who would have thought God had hidden such beautiful little beasties in the mud at the bottom of the creek?  I’m thankful for this unexpected glimpse into a world I knew nothing about.

This is yet another species in my 100 Species Challenge. I love learning more about the plants and animals around us, and may just start another blog about that.  Someday.


  1. JoAnn says:

    What a fun thing to find. You have some beautiful areas to enjoy around you.

    1. Annie Kate says:

      Yes, we do! The thing is, we usually don’t notice them.

  2. briana says:

    That is so neat. Weird and cool.

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