‘Beetlemania’ at Arundel Wetland Centre

Great Silver Water beetle recorded only twice before in West Sussex
Great Silver Water beetle recorded only twice before in West Sussex

Staff at Arundel Wetland Centre are raving about a new rare beetle recording - a Great Silver Water Beetle was found on the reserve on Wednesday June 4.

This beetle has never been spotted at the wetland centre before as these beetles are mainly be found in the Somerset Levels and are very rare in Sussex.

Penny Green, Manager of Sussex Biodiversity Record Centre confirmed the beetle is extremely rare in West Sussex:“There are only two recorded sightings of this beetle in West Sussex - one at Chichester Canal in 1990 and one at Ifield Pond in Crawley in 1978”!

Great silver water beetles (Hydrophilus piceus) are enormous aquatic insects that can measure up to 5 cm (2 inches) long.

Air bubbles cling to the underside of this large beetle when it goes underwater, giving it a silvery appearance and allowing it to breathe.

The great silver water beetle was found in the Icelandic Lake pen at Arundel Wetland Centre, keeping company with rare sea ducks like the endangered scaly sided-merganser.

WWT Arundel aviculture warden Sam Halpin said.” I’m surprised the large beetle survived in the exhibit with the hungry sea ducks that like to eat arthropods.”

The Great Silver Water beetle itself is a vegetarian. After a photographing and cataloguing the beetle it was released back onto the wetland reserve.

WWT Arundel Wetland Centre is open between 9:30-17:30 seven days a week on Mill Road in Arundel. Visit wwt.org.uk/arundel for more information.

Report and picture contributed by Arundel Wetland Centre.