Wednesday 20 November 2013

Water Scavenger Beetle

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear... How can you expect to get anywhere in life with a face and body as repulsive as that? You look like a doom-laden carrot. How can a doom-laden carrot contribute to society? Stop looking like a doom-laden carrot!

ADULT Water Scavenger Beetles are great...

Image: Udo Schmidt
Hydrophilus piceus can reach 4 cm (1.6 in) long
They're sleek and shiny and swim around in ponds and quiet streams using long, hairy legs. Everyone loves long, hairy legs!

Image: Wolfram Sondermann
They keep themselves supplied with oxygen by storing bubbles of air under their wing cases and on their underside. It gives them a charming, silvery sheen.

An eccentricity of theirs is that their antennae are short and clubbed, while one bit of their mouth parts known as the maxillary palpi are so long they look like antennae.

ADULT Water Scavenger Beetles enjoy all the active pursuits available to them; swimming, walking AND flying. They do indeed scavenge for detritus but they can also eat plants and small creatures. They would be insufferable if they were human, with all their diet plans and exercise regimes. You must admit, with almost 3,000 species in the Hydrophilidae family living in every continent except Antarctica, they're clearly doing something right!

But then you see the larvae...

A bloated maggot with a crispy head, waddling around in ghastly, wrinkled skin. YUCK! These blubber-beasts are aquatic and like to hang around among plants, but they can swim surprisingly well for something so bulky. Like walruses.

It's less surprising to learn that they excel at eating and prey on aquatic insects to acquire all the meaty protein they need to grow up big and... wrong. If they're big enough, they can also snatch up small fish and tadpoles and their jaws are powerful enough to break through snail shells.

All good things must come to an end. Bad things have a lot more choice, so be grateful that this flab-monster eventually burrows into moist soil to pupate and emerge as a shiny, new adult.


TexWisGirl said...

yeah, not keen on the larva. :)

Joseph JG said...

They're incredibly grim!