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Archive for May 6th, 2009

river

Vegetation along the river is really starting to green up, although the trees are only just beginning to leaf out. When I was poking around by the water the other day, I noticed a raft of whirligig beetles (family Gyrinidae) whizzing about. Whirligigs are often referred to as the bumper cars of the insect world and are fun to watch. Their flotillas can contain hundreds of individuals.
They skim the surface of ponds, lakes and streams, propelling themselves with their four flat, paddle-like back legs, and using the rudder-like tip of their abdomen to steer. Their forelegs are used to grasp prey on the water surface. Whirligigs have 2 sets of eyes, one pair on the top of their heads, and a second pair on the lower surface of their heads for seeing below the water surface. What a cool system! They can also dive, carrying an air bubble with them.

whirlygigs1

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