Australian Beetles Walk on the Underside of Water’s Surface

Watch one scurry around upside down in a remarkably unusual form of locomotion.

Lisa Winter
Lisa Winter

Lisa Winter became social media editor for The Scientist in 2017. In addition to her duties on social media platforms, she also pens obituaries for the website. She graduated from Arizona State University, where she studied genetics, cell, and developmental biology.

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Jul 15, 2021

Many aquatic insects can be found gliding across the surface of water, but some beetles from Down Under do it upside down, clinging to the surface while submerged in the water. A study published June 28 in Ethology explains how the beetles are able to achieve this exceedingly rare form of locomotion.

The researchers write in their study that they believe that the bubble of air the beetle holds on its abdomen provides the tension needed to stay belly up as it scurries around in the water. Although the exact species of the insect isn’t known, the researchers suspect it belongs to the family Hydrophilidae, water scavenging beetles.

A beetle suspected to be in the Hydrophilidae family uses the underside of the water’s surface to get around.