Saturday, March 26, 2011

Water Scavenger Beetle

I read this quote online about these beetles and had to chuckle at its truthfulness:  "This is a water beetle. It is the hardest object in the world to pick up with tweezers. The second hardest is Mount Everest." I wish I could find out who first said it, but there was no name associated with the quote.
Water scavenger beetles are in the family Hydrophilidae. These beetles are predominately aquatic and will be found near ponds, streams, lakes and other small bodies of water. We have a small wetland on our property and there are hundreds of these beetles present there as well other aquatic insects. This little wetland is one of my favorite areas to visit on our farm, there is always something interesting to see. As larvae they live under the surface of the water and prey on other insects. As adults they vary their diet between vegetation and other insects as well scavenging on decaying animal and plant matter.These beetles are very difficult to identify to species, and with over 225 species in 34 genera it is easy to see why. Many of them look very similar and closer inspection of their underside, antennae and leg hairs is required for a more accurate identification. 

These beetles have very shiny elytra; you can even see your reflection in their wings.....(first photo shows my own reflection as I photographed this particular beetle). They range in size from 1/4 of an inch up to 1 1/2 inches or more. Not all beetles in this family are aquatic, some are terrestrial and will live under rich damp soil, or in dung or decaying leaf litter. The beetles associated with land typically are herbivores and feed on vegetation exclusively.  

We typically find insects at our porch lights, or at the family picnic, or while walking through our gardens, but many of us don't associate insects with water. Many insects in fact begin their lives in water and live near water their whole lives. Exploring ponds, streams and lakes or any other temporary body of water often yields some interesting finds. 


  1. Good Morning Shelly! I will have to look for this beetle at the pond. I am sure I have seen them and didn't realize what I was looking at. That is why it is alwys fun to come here and learn a thing or two! Thanks for following my blog. Maria said she met you and that we would all have to get together, I think that would be fun!

  2. Good morning Rural. Aquatic insects fascinate me. Their lifecycles are so unique and to see the adaptations that they have developed to be able to live an aquatic live is incredible, after all we associate aquatics with frogs and fish with special gills that allow them to survive in such a habitat....and then insects come along and had a whole new spin on things. Love it!
    Maria is a sweetheart, I wished I could have spent more time visiting with her at Burr Oak Woods, but my husband and driven down with me so that when I finished giving my presentation we could go antique shopping at the Brass Armadillo. I would love to get together with both of you for lunch, maybe a picnic in the park?

  3. Possibly one of the best beetle quotes ever!!!

  4. LOL, great isn't it? I cracked up laughing when I read it, because ironically I've actually "tried" to pick one of these up with tweezers

  5. Ha ha! They ARE hard to pick up with tweezers! However, the hydrophilids are nothing compared to the dytiscids. I'm constantly grumbling about the dytiscids shooting out of the tweezers when I'm pulling them out of my samples or putting new insects into my aquatics collection.

  6. LOL Dragonflywoman.....I feel your pain. Slippy little suckers aren't they?