Whirligig Beetle

Whirligig Beetle ©Amy Lewis

Whirligig beetle

Scientific name: Gyrinus substriatus
Circling on the water's surface, the Whirligig beetle is unmistakeable. This shiny black beetle has oar-like back legs to help it move through the water. Look for it in garden ponds and slow-moving waterways.

Species information


Length: 5-7mm

Conservation status


When to see

January to December


The Whirligig beetle is one of a group of 12 very similar species. It can be found on almost any body of water from ponds and lakes, to canals, ditches and slow-flowing rivers. Whirligig Beetles live on the surface of the water, often in large groups, gyrating as they search for prey, hence the common name. They hunt small invertebrates that fall onto the water's surface, or dive underwater to catch other animals. The back two pairs of legs are modified into short, flat paddles.

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.