Mystery bug baffles children in Kingsbury

Pupils from Oliver Goldsmith Primary School stumble upon a rare insect

A mystery bug has left pupils from Kingsbury not rubbing their stomach but scratching their heads after a pond dipping expedition threw up a surprise guest.

The year 1 pupils, from Oliver Goldsmith Primary School, were enjoying a fish around in the ponds of Fryent Country Park when they stumbled upon a rare large insect.

After much confusion and excitement, Leslie Williams of Brent Parks Service identified it as Ranatra linearis, a Water Bug and revealed it had never been seen in the park before.

Simon Braidman, who has undertaken much pond surveying at Fryent Country Park and elsewhere said: ‘Yes it must be a new record (for Fryent Country Park). There is only 1 British member of the genus so it is Ranatra linearis there is nothing else quite like it. A lovely insect’.

The front legs of the insect are adapted for seizing and grasping prey and the ‘tail’ is a respiratory tube which enables it to breath under water.

When out of the water it folds in its legs and resembles a stick.

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Martin Francis, from Brent School Without Walls, which organised the trip, had also never seen such a creature before, despite pond dipping with classes for the last 5 years.

Anthony Quinlan, head teacher at the school in Coniston Gardens, said: “It’s really great for children to get out and experience real hands on learning.

“Everything they see is new but to find a rare beast is very exciting.”