Adult members of the family Gyrinidae are unique in that their compound eyes are divided into separate dorsal and ventral portions, giving them a "four-eyed" appearance. This allows them to see both above and below the water at the same time. Their nickname, “whirligig beetles” was given to the adult beetles due to their behavior of zipping around in swirling motions along the surface of the water, although they are also good divers.
Both the larvae and adults of this family are aquatic, typically found in quiet water of lentic or lotic habitats. The pupae are terrestrial. Both adults and larvae are engulfing predators of small invertebrates, but the adults may also be surface film scavengers. Larvae live and feed on the bottom or climb on rooted plants.
Mid-Atlantic: up to 4
Midwest: 3.6 - 3.7
Southeast: 5.5 - 6.3
0 = least tolerant, 10 = most tolerant
Engulfer / Predator
+ Expanded Character List
Adults with hardened forewings (elytra) covering the hind wings.
Short antennae with clubbed apices. Compound eyes divided into separate dorsal and ventral portions ("4-eyed" appearance).
iNaturalist is an online social network and crowdsourced species identification platform