But you knew that already

unidentified swimming/floating beetles, possibly whirligig beetles family GyrinidaeI said that I would reveal what the month-end abstract was, and so I have returned, later than intended but bearing gifts for all (one of which is coming up very soon.) At right is another version of the same subject, taken at the same time but with a much faster shutter speed. In certain small areas of lakes, ponds, and streams, a variety of swimming beetle can be found at times, charcoal grey but shiny, swimming at great speed in elaborate zigzags. These are, most likely, a variety of whirligig beetles, family Gyrinidae, but since I have yet to obtain a closeup image or capture one for better examination, this identification remains tentative. They’re about a centimeter long and half that wide, and virtually always congregate in groups. It’s not the first time that I’ve photographed them either, but I’ve never made the effort to capture one for detail shots, so I may have to rectify that soon.

To produce the abstract, I simply aimed almost straight down at a cluster of them whipping around and dragged the shutter a little, as in, 1/13th second, which was enough to let them blur through the frame – the curious light trails were provided by reflections from the water and possibly their shiny backs. If you go back to that image, you’ll also see some faint curling traces left by sunlight reflecting from other ripples not caused by the beetles. I was wading in the shallows of Jordan Lake for this one, and they darted away only when I got too close, which was a little less than a meter – if I take along a small minnow net I could probably snag one with a couple of tries.

unidentified beetle possibly whirligig beetle family Gyrinidae pausing on water surface
This is probably the best closeup shot that I have of the species, which isn’t saying much, but there are some cooler images to be found here. On that page I speculated that they were Hydrophilidae, but those are diving beetles and tend to be larger, so I’m correcting myself here without even knowing if I’m correct – I’m probably wrong on both counts, and the next six tries as well. Hey, you come here for the photos, not the entomology lessons. Or if you do, well, you’re in trouble…

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