Diving beetle (Bidessus minutissimus)

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Bidessus minutissimus specimen
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Diving beetle fact file

Diving beetle description

KingdomAnimalia
PhylumArthropoda
ClassInsecta
OrderColeoptera
FamilyDytiscidae
GenusBidessus

This very small diving beetle is patterned with black and yellow blotches (3). It is beautifully adapted for life in water, with a sleek, streamlined body and modified hair-fringed hind legs, which are used as paddles (4).

Size
Length: 1.5 mm (1)
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Diving beetle biology

The details of the life cycle of this water beetle are unknown, and larval stages have not been observed. It is able to fly (2).

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Diving beetle range

This beetle is found only in western parts of Britain, and was once found from the Solway area as far south as Devon. Since 1908 there have been no records of this species in southern England, but it was found in 1981 in Cheshire (2). It has recently been recorded from four rivers in Wales, and there are historic records from two others. In Scotland it is currently known from only one of five rivers it has been recorded from in the past (5). Elsewhere, this beetle is found in southern Ireland, the Canaries, North Africa, central Europe, Switzerland, Austria, Italy and the Balearics (2).

You can view distribution information for this species at the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
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Diving beetle habitat

Found in the lower parts of rivers (although not in brackish water), where it is often associated with fine gravel or sand banks. Previously it has been found in coastal lakes (2).

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Diving beetle status

Classified as Rare in Great Britain (2).

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Diving beetle threats

This species is currently threatened by water pollution, disturbance by anglers and boat users, as well as changes to the riverbanks, such as strengthening (2).

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Diving beetle conservation

This beetle is a priority species under the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UK BAP), and a Species Action Plan has been produced to guide its conservation; the Environment Agency is the 'lead partner' responsible for coordinating efforts to conserve this species (1).

There may be further information about this species available via the National Biodiversity Network Gateway.
The UK Biodiversity Action Plan for this species is available at UK BAP.
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Authentication

Information authenticated by Adrian Fowles of the Countryside Council for Wales:
http://www.ccw.gov.uk

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Glossary

Brackish
Slightly salty water.
Larval
Of the stage in an animal's lifecycle after it hatches from the egg. Larvae are typically very different in appearance to adults; they are able to feed and move around but usually are unable to reproduce.
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References

  1. Environment Agency (2000) Focus on Biodiversity. Environment Agency, Bristol.
  2. UK BAP (September 2002): http://www.ukbap.org.uk
  3. National Biodiversity Network Species Dictionary (March 2003): http://www.nhm.ac.uk/nbn/
  4. Harde, K. W. (2000) A field guide in colour to beetles. Silverdale Books, Leicester.
  5. Fowles, A. (2003) Pers. comm.
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Image credit

Bidessus minutissimus specimen  
Bidessus minutissimus specimen

© The Natural History Museum, London

The Natural History Museum Picture Library
Cromwell Road
London
SW7 5BD
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 207 942 5323
Fax: +44 (0) 207 942 5443
nhmpl@nhm.ac.uk
http://www.nhm.ac.uk/piclib

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