Science Week: Whirligig Beetles

science week notice
Here is our second Science Week post on the topic of Bog Science
Today we are looking at surface tension and the whirligig beetle. Whirligig beetles are one of our freshwater invertebrates that are found in bog pools throughout Wild Nephin National Park and at our outdoor classroom at the Ballycroy Visitor Centre.
These beetles can swim under the surface, especially if disturbed, but are often found resting on or swimming in groups on the surface of the water. Most aquatic insects live in the water column, but some species like whirligig beetles and pond skaters live on the surface or just below. These insects are benefiting from the strong hydrogen bonds between water molecules on the surface of the water, which is known as surface tension. Whirligig beetles feed on smaller organisms that get stuck on the water because of this surface tension. However, living at the surface does present dangers for these beetles such as being vulnerable to predation themselves. You will often witness the whirligig beetle diving quickly below the surface of the water on approaching bog pools. A potentially life-saving behaviour if the organism approaching has an inclination for feeding on them!
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