Div­ing Bee­tles Gob­ble Their Food

Science Illustrated - - NATURE/ HUNTING -

Div­ing bee­tles spread fear and dread in any wa­ter­hole dur­ing the sum­mer. The stream­lined, fast-swim­ming bee­tles are proper eat­ing ma­chines, which will con­sume al­most any­thing – but their lar­vae are even worse. Adult div­ing bee­tles grow up to 4 cm long, but their lar­vae often mea­sure up to 10 cm. The lar­vae are equipped with a pair of large, curved jaws, that they sink into any­thing they can get to – even prey larger than them­selves. The meal is dis­solved and sucked out via two chan­nels, and once the lar­vae have grown fat, they crawl onto the shore to pu­pate. The next year, adults emerge to mate and lay new eggs.

Div­ing bee­tles de­scend from ter­res­trial ground bee­tles, but they still need to breathe. The lar­vae have a vol­ume of air in­side their bod­ies, which they re­plen­ish by the sur­face of the wa­ter, whereas the adults col­lect air un­der their wings, so they can re­main un­der the wa­ter for a longer pe­riod of time. A to­tal of 4,200 dif­fer­ent div­ing bee­tle species ex­ist, mak­ing them the largest fam­ily of aquatic bee­tles.

Div­ing bee­tle lar­vae try to take hold of ev­ery­thing that flows by.

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