Whirligig beetle

Whirligig Beetle

Whirligig Beetle ©Amy Lewis

Whirligig beetle

Scientific name: Gyrinus substriatus
Ever wondered what that little black dot whirling in circles on the top of the water of a pond is? Those are whirligig beetles! Often seen shooting across the water surface on the hunt for its next meal.

Species information


Length: 5-7mm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


You may have seen this little black beetle whirling around on the top of the water in a pond or slow-moving river. Their back legs are short and flat so act as the perfect paddle for shooting across the water surface on the hunt for small insects. They also dive underwater to catch other animals for a tasty treat.

How to identify

The Whirligig beetle is shiny black, with orange legs, and is oval in shape. Its back legs are like flattened paddles. Its circling behaviour is unmistakeable.



Did you know?

Whirligig beetles have two pairs of compound eyes: one pair looks upwards, over the water's surface, while the other looks down, underwater.

How people can help

Whether you live in town or country, you can help to look after garden wildlife by providing food, water and shelter. To find out more about encouraging wildlife into your garden, visit our Wild About Gardens website: a joint initiative with the RHS, there's plenty of facts and tips to get you started. To encourage invertebrates, amphibians and other wetland wildlife into your garden, try having a wildlife-friendly pond and leaving piles of logs for hibernating animals. To buy bird and animal food, feeders and homes, visit the Vine House Farm website - an award-winning wildlife-friendly farm which gives 5% of all its takings to The Wildlife Trusts.