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Life in Freshwater

Screech Beetle (Hygrobia tarda)

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Sceech Beetle adult

IDENTIFICATION: a fairly common species in England and Wales, as far north as Yorkshire. The body is strongly convex about 1 centimetre long. The legs are hairy for swimming but otherwise unmodified. Superficially the beetle looks like the diving beetles but the eyes are very prominent and round plus it has a protruding head with neck. What sets it apart from other beetles is the way it squeaks when you pick it up and squeeze it gently. It does this by rubbing the wing cases together.

ECOLOGY: this is an important carnivore and scavenger in small ponds. The wings are held away from the body to create an air space (see picture above). By floating to the surface the tip of the abdomen is stuck out of the water and the air space renewed with fresh air. Whilst swimming some oxygen will diffuse into this air bubble as it is used up by the beetle. In this way it uses it like a gill. However it does need to replenish the air bubble from the surface, especially after active diving and swimming.












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