Hydrophilus piceus

Hydrophilus piceus is a species of beetles in the family Hydrophilidae, the water scavenger beetles. This very large aquatic beetle is found in the Palearctic and is known by the common name great silver water beetle.[2]

Hydrophilus piceus
Hydrophilidae - Hydrophilus piceus-001
Scientific classification
H. piceus
Binomial name
Hydrophilus piceus
  • Hydrophilus angustior Rey, 1885
  • Hydrophilus niger Eichler, 1876
  • Hydrophilus ruficornis De Geer, 1774
  • Hydrophilus viridicollis Redtenbacher, 1844
  • Hydrous piceus Linnaeus
  • Hydrous turkestanus Kuwert, 1893
  • Stethoxus plicifer Bedel, 1891


This beetle is among the largest aquatic insects. Adults can reach up to 5–5.15 cm (1.97–2.03 in) in length and 2.05 cm (0.81 in) in width.[3][2] The larvae is up to 7 cm (2.8 in) long. The body of adults is black with a greenish or olive sheen. It has protruding eyes and reddish-black antennae.[2]


Hydrophilidae - Hydrophilus piceus-001
Adult in flight (museum specimen)
Hydrous piceus Larva by H. Henderkes

This beetle lives in aquatic environments. In some regions it can be found in lakes and ponds. In Greece it can be found in lagoons and estuaries. It has been found at elevations of up to 1,000 m (3,300 ft). In Great Britain it lives in ditches with thick vegetation in marshy areas.[2]

The beetle is omnivorous but favors plant material. It can live for up to 3 years but most individuals die after breeding during their first year. The larvae feed on freshwater snails of the family Lymnaeidae, drilling holes into the shells to feed on the animals. The grubs can then reach 7 centimeters long before pupating in the mud. In the spring, the adult female spins a cocoon, fills it with eggs, and sets it afloat.[2]


This beetle is native to the Western Palearctic ecozone, where it occurs throughout much of Eurasia, its distribution extending from Scandinavia to the Mediterranean, North Africa, and Russia, and as far east as India and China. Its distribution is not continuous because it has been extirpated from some areas; it is considered to be extinct in Norway and Luxembourg, for example. It is rare in some regions, being found only in specific and relictual habitat types.[2]


  1. ^ "Hydrophilus piceus Linnaeus, 1758". Biolib.cz. Retrieved May 7, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c d e f Karaouzas, I., et al. (2014). Contribution to knowledge of the distribution of the rare great silver water beetle Hydrophilus piceus (Linnaeus, 1758) (Coleoptera, Hydrophilidae) in Greece. Polish Journal of Entomology 83(2) 99–107.
  3. ^ G.C. McGavin (2010). Insects. p. 88. ISBN 978-1-4053-4997-0.

External links

Biddle Street, Yatton

Biddle Street, Yatton (grid reference ST423648) is a 44.8 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) near the village of Yatton in North Somerset, notified in 1994.

Management practices and the variation in the soils has resulted in the watercourses supporting a wide range of aquatic plant

communities. Where open water occurs plants such as Common Water-starwort (Callitriche stagnalis), European Frogbit (Hydrocharis morsusranae), Fan-leaved Water-crowfoot (Ranunculus circinatus). The calcareous influence of the

underlying Compton soils also encourages Whorled Water-milfoil (Myriophyllum verticillatum) and Stonewort (Chara sp). Also present are the nationally scarce Rootless Duckweed (Wolffia arrhiza) and Hairlike Pondweed (Potamogeton trichoides).A rich invertebrate fauna is also associated with the rhynes and ditches including aquatic beetles including populations of two

nationally rare species, Hydacticus transversalis and Britain's largest water beetle, the Great Silver Water Beetle (Hydrophilus piceus). A number of dragonflies and damselflies are also found in the watercourses including the nationally scarce Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum). Strong populations of the Common Freshwater Mussel occur as does the nationally rare Pea Mussel (Pisidium pseudosphaerium).

Bridgwater Bay

Bridgwater Bay is on the Bristol Channel, 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) north of Bridgwater in Somerset, England at the mouth of the River Parrett and the end of the River Parrett Trail. It stretches from Minehead at the southwestern end of the bay to Brean Down in the north. The area consists of large areas of mudflats, saltmarsh, sandflats and shingle ridges, some of which are vegetated. It has been designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) covering an area of 3,574.1 hectares (35.741 km2; 13.800 sq mi) since 1989, and is designated as a wetland of international importance under the Ramsar Convention. The risks to wildlife are highlighted in the local Oil Spill Contingency Plan.Several rivers, including the Parrett, Brue and Washford, drain into the bay. Man-made drainage ditches from the Somerset Levels, including the River Huntspill, also run into the bay. The mud flats provide a habitat for a wide range of flora and fauna. These include some nationally rare plants, beetles and snails. It is particularly important for over-wintering waders and wildfowl, with approximately 190 species recorded including whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus), black-tailed godwit (Limosa limosa), dunlin (Calidris alpina) and wigeon (Anas penelope). Fishing has taken place using shallow boats, known as flatners, and fixed wooden structures for hundreds of years. It was also the last site in England used for 'mudhorse fishing'. There are several small harbours along the coast.

The low-lying areas of the bay have been subject to flooding, including the Bristol Channel floods of 1607 and many times since particularly around the Steart Peninsula. In response to this threat sea walls have been built at several points including at Burnham-on-Sea, Berrow and Blue Anchor to Lilstock Coast. The extensive mud flats and high tidal range have been the cause of several drownings and rescue services are now provided by the Burnham Area Rescue Boat.

Caldicot and Wentloog Levels

The Caldicot and Wentloog Levels are two areas of low-lying estuarine alluvial wetland and intertidal mudflats adjoining the north bank of the Severn Estuary, either side of the River Usk estuary near Newport in south east Wales. They are also known collectively as the Monmouthshire Levels or Gwent Levels, and the name Wentloog is sometimes spelled Wentlooge in official publications.

The Caldicot Level lies to the southeast of Newport between the River Usk and River Wye and consists of 17,500 acres (71 km2). It is home to Newport Wetlands Reserve. The Wentloog Level lies to the southwest between the River Usk and Rhymney River and consists of 8,500 acres (34 km2).

The levels are formed from tidal deposits and alluvium, which have been recurrently inundated and reclaimed from the Severn Estuary by humans since Roman times. They have been patterns of settlement, enclosure and drainage systems belonging to successive periods of use, and are extremely rich archaeologically, with finds from the Mesolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age periods.

They are an important wetland resource. Parts have been designated as Sites of Special Scientific Interest. They are registered as a Historic Landscape of Outstanding Historic Interest in Wales.

Catcott, Edington and Chilton Moors

Catcott, Edington and Chilton Moors SSSI is a 1083 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Somerset, England notified in 1967. It is close to the villages of Edington and Catcott.

It is part of the Brue Valley Living Landscape conservation project. The project commenced in January 2009 and aims to restore, recreate and reconnect habitat. It aims to ensure that wildlife is enhanced and capable of sustaining itself in the face of climate change while guaranteeing farmers and other landowners can continue to use their land profitably. It is one of an increasing number of landscape scale conservation projects in the UK.The site consists of low-lying land south of the River Brue, which floods on a regular basis; land north of here is included in the Tealham and Tadham Moors SSSI. The site is managed by Somerset Wildlife Trust and includes the Catcott Lows National Nature Reserve, Catcott Heath and Catcott North.A variety of fauna are found due to the varied soil types and management practices. Unimproved swards include meadows dominated by meadow thistle (Cirsium dissectum), meadow rue (Thalictrum flavum) and similar species, and southern marsh-orchid (Dactylorhiza praetermissa). In the wetter areas rushes and marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) are found. Catcott Heath is noted for its rare vascular plants including marsh pea (Lathyrus palustris), milk-parsley (Peucedanum palustre) and marsh fern (Thelypteris palustris). A total of 127 aquatic and bankside vascular plant species have been recorded in the field ditches, internal drainage board maintained rhynes and deep arterial watercourses.The botanically rich water channels support a diverse invertebrate fauna including water beetles Haliplus mucronatus and Hydrophilus piceus. The rare soldier fly, the flecked general (Stratiomys singularior), is found and there are good numbers of dragonflies and damselflies.The range of plants and invertebrates support many bird species including golden plover (Pluvialis apricaria), lapwing (Vanellus vanellus), snipe (Gallinago gallinago) and dunlin (Calidris alpina). Other vertebrate species present, include the otter (Lutra lutra), grass snake (Natrix natrix) and common frog (Rana temporaria).

Grazing marsh

Grazing marsh is a British Isles term for flat, marshy grassland in polders. It consists of large grass fields separated by fresh or brackish ditches, and is often important for its wildlife.

Halvergate Marshes

The Halvergate Marshes are an area of grazing marsh in the east of the English county of Norfolk. They form part of the area of The Broads and lie between the River Bure and the River Yare, bordering Breydon Water on the east. The marshes cover an area of around 2,642 hectares (26.42 km2; 10.20 sq mi) An area of 1,432.7-hectare (3,540-acre) is a biological Site of Special Scientific Interest. Some areas are also in the Breydon Water Local Nature Reserve, the Broadland and Breydon Water Ramsar sites, The Broads Special Area of Conservation, and The Broads and Breydon Water Special Protection Areas.


Hydrophilidae, also called water scavenger beetles, is a family of chiefly aquatic beetles. Aquatic hydrophilids are notable for their long maxillary palps, which are longer than their antennae. Several of the former subfamilies of Hydrophilidae have recently been removed and elevated to family rank; Epimetopidae, Georissidae (= Georyssinae), Helophoridae, Hydrochidae, and Spercheidae (= Sphaeridiinae). Some of these formerly-included groups are primarily terrestrial or semi-aquatic.The vernacular name water scavenger beetles is not an accurate description of their habit. With rare exceptions, the larvae are predatory while the adults may be vegetarians or predators in addition to scavenging. Many species are able to produce sounds.Species of Hydrophilus are reported as pests in fish hatcheries. Other species are voracious consumers of mosquito larvae, and have potential as biological control agents.

There are 2,835 species in 169 genera


Hydrophilini is a tribe in the subfamily Hydrophilinae of aquatic beetles that contains 198 species in 8 genera.

Hydrophilus (beetle)

Hydrophilus is a genus of beetles in the family Hydrophilidae, the water scavenger beetles. There are about 48 species in three subgenera in the genus: Hydrophilus, Dibolocelus, and Temnopterus.

Karl Heider (zoologist)

Karl Heider (28 April 1856, Vienna – 2 July 1935, Deutschfeistritz) was an Austrian zoologist and embryologist known for his research involving the developmental history of invertebrates. He was the son of Moriz Heider, a pioneer of scientific dentistry in Austria.

He studied medicine and zoology in Graz and Vienna, obtaining his PhD in 1879 and his doctorate of medicine in 1883. In Vienna he was a student of zoologist Carl Claus and a colleague to Karl Grobben, with whom he formed a lifelong friendship. After receiving his habilitation, he became a professor at the University of Innsbruck (1894). In 1917 he was appointed to the chair of zoology at Friedrich Wilhelm University in Berlin.His name is associated with several marine invertebrates with the specific epithet of heideri, an example being Thaumastoderma heideri.

Langmead and Weston Level

Langmead and Weston Level (grid reference ST353330) is a 168.8 hectare (417.1 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest in Somerset, notified in 1991.

Langmead and Weston Level form part of the nationally important grazing marsh and ditch systems of the Somerset Levels and Moors. The site is nationally important for its species-rich neutral grassland and the invertebrate community found in the ditches and rhynes. The land lies in the flood plain of the River Parrett and many of the fields are poorly

drained and seasonally water-logged. The terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates recorded on the site include four nationally

rare species: the Great Silver Diving Beetle (Hydrophilus piceus), the soldier fly (Odontomyia ornata) and two true flies, Lonchoptera scutellata and Stenomicra cogani.

Moorlinch SSSI

Moorlinch (grid reference ST390360) is a 226.0 hectare (558.4 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest at Moorlinch in Somerset, notified in 1985.

Moorlinch is part of the extensive grazing marsh grasslands and ditch systems of the Somerset Levels and Moors. Lying in the Parrett Basin at the foot of the Polden Hills, the area drains by gravity into the King’s Sedgemoor Drain.

The water table is high for most of the year with frequent winter flooding from high ground and surface water remaining on many fields throughout the winter and early spring. Moorlinch contains a good proportion of botanically rich ditch systems. Regularly

maintained field ditches are often species-rich and diverse. Notable species include Lesser Water-plantain (Baldellia ranunculoides), Tubular Water-dropwort (Oenanthe fistulosa) and Hairlike Pondweed (Potamogeton trichoides). The channels and banksides support a rich fauna; rare species include the water beetle (Hydrophilus piceus) and the soldier fly (Odontomyia ornata). Large populations of dragonflies and damselflies occur, including the Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) and the Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum).


Nailsea is a town in the unitary authority of North Somerset in the ceremonial county of Somerset, England, approximately 8 miles (13 km) southwest of Bristol, and about 11 miles (18 km) northeast of the seaside resort of Weston-super-Mare. The nearest village is Backwell, which lies south of Nailsea on the opposite side of the Bristol to Exeter railway line. Nailsea is a commuter town with a population of 15,630.The town was an industrial centre based on coal mining and glass manufacture, which have now been replaced by service industries. The surrounding North Somerset Levels has wildlife habitats including the Tickenham, Nailsea and Kenn Moors biological Site of Special Scientific Interest and Bucklands Pool/Backwell Lake Local Nature Reserve. Nailsea is close to the M5 motorway and Bristol Airport, and its railway station, Nailsea and Backwell, has services operated by the Great Western Railway.

Secondary education is provided by Nailsea School (rebuilt in 2009), and primary education by St Francis School, Grove Junior School, Kingshill School and Golden Valley. Churches include the 14th-century Holy Trinity Church and Christ Church, which was built in 1843.

Shapwick, Somerset

Shapwick is a village on the Polden Hills overlooking the Somerset Moors, in the Sedgemoor district of Somerset, England. It is situated to the west of Glastonbury.

Shapwick Heath

Shapwick Heath is a 394.0-hectare (973.6 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest and national nature reserve between Shapwick and Westhay in Somerset, notified in 1967. It is part of the Brue Valley Living Landscape conservation project. The project commenced in January 2009 and aims to restore, recreate and reconnect habitat. It aims to ensure that wildlife is enhanced and capable of sustaining itself in the face of climate change while guaranteeing farmers and other landowners can continue to use their land profitably. It is one of an increasing number of landscape scale conservation projects in the UK.Shapwick Heath, part of the Avalon Marshes in the Somerset Levels Wetlands, and managed as a national nature reserve by Natural England, is a former raised bog lying in the basin of the River Brue. The site supports a diverse community of terrestrial and aquatic invertebrates. National rarities are the Greater Silver Diving Beetle (Hydrophilus piceus) and the

Lesser Silver Diving Beetle (Hydrochara caraboides) which is now confined nationally to the Brue Basin Peat Moors.The Sweet Track, an ancient causeway crosses the site. It is one of the oldest engineered roads known and the oldest timber trackway discovered in Northern Europe.

The adjoining Shapwick Moor has been purchased by the Hawk and Owl Trust as a reserve. Ham Wall nature reserve is to the east.

Tealham and Tadham Moors

Tealham and Tadham Moors (grid reference ST420450) is a 917.6 hectare (2267.3 acre) biological Site of Special Scientific Interest south of Wedmore in Somerset, notified in 1985.

Land south of this site is included in Catcott, Edington and Chilton Moors SSSI.

Tealham and Tadham Moors form part of the extensive grazing marsh and ditch systems of the Somerset Levels and Moors. The water table is high throughout the greater part of the year with winter flooding occurring annually, by over-topping of the River Brue. 113 aquatic and bankside vascular plant species have been recorded from the field ditches, rhynes and deep arterial watercourses. A diverse invertebrate fauna is associated in particular with ditches that have a good submerged plant community. The water beetle fauna is exceptionally rich, with the nationally rare species Hydrophilus piceus and Hydrochara caraboides together with the rare soldier flies Stratiomys furcata and Odontomyia ornata. Good numbers of dragonflies and damselflies occur including the Hairy Dragonfly (Brachytron pratense) and the Variable Damselfly (Coenagrion pulchellum).

Tickenham, Nailsea and Kenn Moors SSSI

Tickenham, Nailsea and Kenn Moors SSSI (grid reference ST440700) is a 129.4 hectare biological Site of Special Scientific Interest between Tickenham, Nailsea and Kenn on the North Somerset Levels, notified in 1995.

The soils in the area include both clays of the Allerton and Wentloog Series and peat soils of the Sedgemoor and Godney Series, which are drained by a network of large rhynes and smaller field ditches, which support exceptionally rich plant and invertebrate fauna communities. Exceptional populations of Coleoptera occur with at least 12 nationally scarce species and two nationally rare species, including Britain’s largest water beetle the Great Silver Water Beetle (Hydrophilus piceus).


Westonzoyland is a village and civil parish in Somerset, England. It is situated on the Somerset Levels, 4 miles (6.4 km) south east of Bridgwater.

Extant Coleoptera families

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