Family: Gyrinidae (whirligig beetles)
Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Arthopoda > Mandibulata > Atelocerata > Panhexapoda > Hexapoda
(insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota > Metapterygota > Neoptera > Eumetabola >
Holometabola > Coleoptera (beetles)
> Suborder: Adephaga
These are the beetles one sees darting round on the water
surface at high speed, often in groups. They dive readily when disturbed and use
air trapped beneath the elytra for respiration. The family is distinguished from
other beetles in having the compound eyes divided into two: a dorsal pair for
seeing into the air and a ventral pair for seeing under water. Adults feed
mainly on insects on the water surface but there are species that feed on
aquatic vegetation. There are four genera and about 45 species of gyrinids in
Some subfamilies, genera and species in southern Africa
Eggs are laid on submerged vegetation. They hatch into
elongate larvae that are predatory, feeding on bottom-dwelling (benthic)
invertebrates. The larvae have respiratory filaments on the abdomen to aid
breathing underwater. At maturity they pupate above the water surface on plants
or on the embankment of the water body.
Brinck, P. 1955. Gyrinidae. A monograph of the whirligig
beetles of Southern Africa. In: Hanström, B., Brinck, P. & Rudebeck, G.
(eds.) South African Animal Life 1: 329-518.
Scholtz, C.H. and Holm, E. 1985. Insects of southern Africa.