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A water beetle is a generalized name for any beetle that is adapted to living in water at any point in its life cycle. Most water beetles can only live in fresh water, with a few marine species that live in the intertidal zone or littoral zone. Water beetles rise to the water surface and take air into their tracheal systems.
Many water beetles carry an air bubble underneath their abdomens, which both provides an air supply, and prevents water from getting into the spiracles. Others have the surface of their exoskeleton modified to form a plastron, or "physical gill", which permits direct gas exchange with the water. Some families of water beetles have fringed hind legs adapted for swimming, but most do not. Most families of water beetles have larvae that are also aquatic; many have aquatic larvae and terrestrial adults.
Families in which the adults are not necessarily aquatic include Hydrophilidae, Lutrochidae, Dryopidae, Elmidae, Eulichadidae, Heteroceridae, Limnichidae, Psephenidae, Ptilodactylidae, Torridincolidae, and Sphaeriusidae.
- Epler, J. H. 1996. Identification manual for the water beetles of Florida (Coleoptera: Dryopidae, Dytiscidae, Elmidae, Gyrinidae, Haliplidae, Hydraenidae, Hydrophilidae, Noteridae, Psephenidae, Ptilodactylidae, Scirtidae). (PDF, 9.0 MB)
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