Insect Identification logo
Icon of a spider
Icon of a beetle insect
Icon of a butterfly
Icon of a bee
Icon of the Bugfinder utility

Whirligigs (Gyrinus spp.)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Whirligigs.

 Updated: 10/15/2018; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Crazy fast and furious spirals best describe the swimming patterns of Whirligigs, small aquatic beetles that are fun to watch.



Whirligigs Videos



Whirligigs, some swimming and some floating

Whirligigs have four eyes: two above and two below water. This allows them to see through both media simultaneously. Their middle and hind legs are shaped more like a fin or paddle making them agile in the water. Though small as individuals, the size of a large cluster of Whirligigs seen spinning about can reach outrageous numbers. They feed on detritus and small aquatic insects in water and can dive under whenever they like. They cannot breathe underwater so they capture and carry air bubbles when at the surface and take them below to respire.

Whirligigs have a milky chemical defense that they secrete when under threat. Its odor is perceptible to humans and is described unpleasant. The members of this genus prefer calmer waters like lakes and ponds, but are fine in rivers and streams. Whirligigs are mesmerizing to watch.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Coleoptera
        Family: Gyrinidae
          Genus: Gyrinus
            Species: spp.
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Gyrinus spp.
Category: Beetle
Size (Adult; Length): 3mm to 8mm (0.12in to 0.31in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black
Descriptors: fast, spirals, circles, bounce, bumper, gyrating, swimming, cluster, harmless, smelly, stinky, odor
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
State of Alabama graphic
State of Arizona graphic
State of Arkansas graphic
State of California graphic
State of Colorado graphic
State of Delware graphic
State of Florida graphic
State of Georgia graphic
State of Idaho graphic
State of Illinois graphic
State of Indiana graphic
State of Iowa graphic
State of Kansas graphic
State of Kentucky graphic
State of Louisiana graphic
State of Maine graphic
State of Maryland graphic
State of Michigan graphic
State of Minnesota graphic
State of Mississippi graphic
State of Missouri graphic
State of Montana graphic
State of Nebraska graphic
State of Nevada graphic
State of New England graphic
State of New Jersey graphic
State of New Mexico graphic
State of New York graphic
State of North Carolina graphic
State of North Dakota graphic
State of Ohio graphic
State of Oklahoma graphic
State of Oregon graphic
State of Pennsylvania graphic
State of South Carolina graphic
State of South Dakota graphic
State of Tennessee graphic
State of Texas graphic
State of Utah graphic
State of Virginia graphic
State of Washington graphic
State of West Virginia graphic
State of Wisconsin graphic
State of Wyoming graphic
Canadian territory of Alberta graphic
Canadian territory of British Columbia graphic
Canadian territory of Manitoba graphic
Canadian territory of New Brunswick graphic
Canadian territory of Newfoundland and Labrador graphic
Canadian territory of Ontario graphic
Canadian territory of Quebec graphic
Canadian territory of Saskatchewan graphic
Territory map graphic of the country of Mexico
Contiguous United States shape map layer graphic


Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
Canadian National Flag Graphic
Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.




Beetle Anatomy
Graphic showing basic anatomy of a common North American Beetle insect
1
Antennae: Beetles have a pair of antennae on the head used as sensors.
2
Head: The head is home to the insect's eyes, antennae, and mandibles (jaws).
3
Thorax: Holds the three pairs of legs as well as vital internal organs.
4
Elytron: One of two wing cases on a Beetle that protects its wings (plural: elytra).
5
Wings: Appendages used for flying and kept under the elytra until needed.
6
Abdomen: Houses organs related to circulation, reproduction, and excretion.
7
Legs: Beetles have three pairs of legs located at the thorax, numbering six legs in all.