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I have been interested in nature for most of my life but since I retired I spend as much time as I can exploring the nature reserves and wildlife hotspots of my adopted home, Dorset in southern England. Whilst out I record what I see and take snaps where I can (I am no photographer!) and that forms the basis of my Nature of Dorset website. When I find something new I like to research it and write about it in my nature notes, it is how I learn and hopefully you might find my notes helpful as well!

This website is for the people of Dorset interested in wildlife and for people from elsewhere interested in the wildlife of Dorset!

16 October, 2015

Common Whirligig Beetle: never decreasing circles

So, you are not impressed with the photograph? Well, you try taking a picture of a tiny beetle about 5mm long that is charging around in circles on the surface of water! This is my best result yet but I am still trying.
There are eleven species of whirligig beetle in the United Kingdom and I am assuming this is by far the most frequent, the common whirligig (Gyrinus substriatus) but without catching one and examining it under a microscope I cannot be sure.
The curious habit of swimming rapidly in circles is presumably something to do with hunting for food. They feed on virtually anything that falls on to the surface of water and so either they swim around frantically hoping to find something or there is some clever science at work here, I have not been able to establish which as yet. What is interesting is that they have two pairs of eyes, one for seeing above the water surface and the other below. Jusy how does a tiny creature have the room for four eyes on its head? And how can they pack a brain clever enough to cope with processing all the information from its four eyes

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