Here today, gone tomorrow

Diana’s comment on her Great Diving Beetle reminds me of two things.

First, it’s around now that if you keep a look out you can spot some of the comings and goings of smaller animals – although it is hard to drag your attention away from the masses of tadpoles.

Yesterday I had a brief encounter with a whirligig – so far they’ve dropped in most springs, but not hung around, and they certainly haven’t bred in my pond – I’ve seen none of the very distinctive larvae.

Common Whirligig (Gyrinus substriatus): this brilliant picture is from the Beetles of the World website

I’m not sure which of our twelve species it was – most likely it was the animal above, which is our commonest whirligig by a long chalk, but I would have needed a good close look to be certain.

One thing I can be pretty certain of: it wasn’t the creature listed as the Whirligig in the current Collins guide to Freshwater Life – Gyrinus natator (jy-rinus na-tay-tor).

This animal, which also has a proper English name – it’s called the Shady Whirligig – is actually extinct in Britain, and not ‘widespread and common’ as the book says.

For those who are seriously keen on water beetles the thing to do is join the Balfour Browne Club which provides one of the most informative small journals of really good freshwater natural history about water beetles.

Diana’s remarks also reminded me that we have also had the first British record of a new beetle that could easily be mistaken for one of our Great Diving beetles – at present it’s only reasonably plausible English name is The Peardrop (quite a good name, given its distinctive shape) – it’s called Cybister laterimarginalis in Latin (sy-bist-er lat-erry-margin-ay-lis: it’s a bit of a mouthfull at first).

It’s shape is distinctive – and an extra incentive to look carefully at those great diving beetles to find out which is which.

You can see a good picture here on Lars Iversens Flickr site.

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