Academics Admission Student Life Athletics About Saint Michael's News & Events

Site codes explained and mapped  (under mapping resources tab)

Macroinvertebrates home

Streams project

 

Branch Brook (PSR_SWBrnch_1652)

These are the most common macroinvertebrates identified from samples from Branch Brook.

Click on images to zoom in.

ORDER: Diptera
FAMILY: Simuliidae

Simuliidae appear  rather like bowling pins with heads.  We have not identified them past family at this point, but it is in the long-term plan.

ORDER: Ephemeroptera
FAM
ILY: Heptageniidae
GEN
US:
Epeorus

This is the only Heptageniidae genus present in this area with two tails!

ORDER: Ephemeroptera
FAMILY: Baetidae 
GENUS: Baetis 

This mayfly has three "tails" and a unique head shape. Its gills are oval shaped and insert dorsally. More mature nymphs have long, dark wing pads. SMC


© Aquatic Bioassessment Laboratory, California Digital Reference Collection

ORDER: Trichoptera
FAMILY: Glossomatidae

Larvae in this family build domed cases made of small rocks, and are often wider at segment 5. The pronotum is covered in dark, sclerotized plates, but there are either no sclerites on the mesonotum, or the mesonotum is unsclerotized with the exception of a few patches. The anal proleg is broadly joined to segment 9; the anal claw has one or more accessory hooks. The  pronotal excision is small (approximately 1/3 anterolaterally) to accommodate the coxae.

Commonly encountered genera include Glossosoma and Agapetus.


ORDER: Trichoptera
FAMILY: Hydropsychidae

This family of net-spinning caddisflies is very abundant at several sites.  They are important filtering collectors and are quite common at urban and agricultural sites where particles of organic material can be important food resources.  Genus-level identification is possible for mature specimens and we will include the genera we found at your site if possible. Commonly found genera include Cheumatopsyche, Ceratopsyche, and Hydropsyche. Less commonly, we have found Arctopsyche and Potamyia.

When using the key, some features that are challenging to see are the forked trochantin and the paired sclerites in the folds between segments.  Other, more easily seen key features include filamentous gills on the abdominal segments and the sclerotization of the dorsal surfaces of all three thoracic segments. Keep in mind that with smaller or more immature specimens, genus-level ID may not be possible.

ORDER: Diptera
FAMILY: Athericidae
 

Members of the family Athericidae have wrinkled bodies with prolegs on the ventral side. Their mandibles- which can be seen by carefully cutting the head open- move parallel to each other. On the end of their abdomen there are two lobes fringed with setae.

ORDER: Trichoptera
FAMILY: Philopotamidae
GENUS: Dolophilodes

Dolophilodes stands out in the Philopotamidae family due to its slightly asymmetrical frontoclypeus on the anterior margin and its distinguishable projecting foretrochantin.

ORDER: Ephemeroptera
FAMILY: Ephemerellidae
GENUS:
Drunella

The mayfly Drunella is distinguished by its large femoral “biceps;” these femora have tubercles on the leading margins. Gills are present on segments 3-7.

 

ORDER: Plecoptera
FAMILY: Leuctridae
GENUS: Leuctra

This family of stonefly is fairly slender by stonefly standards.  The divergent wing pads are a helpful characteristic. Leuctridae  are similar in overall shape to the Capniidae; however, Leuctridae often do not have pleural folds. If they are present, they only extend from abdominal segments 1-7.  Leuctra  are recognized by abdominal terga with posterior fringes of short hairs and last few segments with longer hairs. NABS

ORDER: Diptera
FAMILY: Tipulidae
GENUS: Dicranota

Dicranota can be distinguished by the two tails and their comb feet. There are usually 5 pairs of prolegs on the abdomen with combs on them. In addition, the posterior portion of the abdomen often has a slight swelling. SMC

 

ORDER: Ephemeroptera
FAM
ILY: Heptageniidae

This family of mayflies can be characterized by their distinctly flattened heads and striking resemblance of the character 'Jack Skellington' from the movie 'The Nightmare Before Christmas.' This family can either have two or three cerci (tails).

Commonly encountered genera include Epeorus, Heptagenia, Maccaffertium, and Rhithrogena.


© Donald S. Chandler / Discover Life

ORDER: Plecoptera
FAMILY: Chloroperlidae


Stoneflies from the family Chloroperlidae have a cylindrical banded abdomen. When observing their mouthparts, the glossae and paraglossae form a three-pronged (open) notch, and their hind wing pads are parallel (not divergent). Cerci have a vertical fringe of hairs pointing away from the abdomen. Setae on the pronotum are found primarily at the corners.

ORDER: Coleoptera 
FAMILY: Elmidae
GENUS:
Optioservus

The larvae of Optioservus have open coxae, as determined by the straight definition between segments on the ventral side of the pronotum.

The adult Optioservus have a compact appearance, especially the head and thorax. There are also dorsal ridges and a characteristic diamond-shaped scutellum observable in the dorsal view.
SMC

 


ORDER: Diptera
FAMILY: Blephariceridae
GENUS: Blepharicera

This Diptera is characterized by six prominent "suction cups" on its  ventral side and has tufts on the sides of abdominal sections.  SMC

ORDER: Diptera
FAMILY: Chironomidae

 Midge larvae tend to be the most common macroinvertebrate at our sites.  As with other Diptera, there are no true jointed legs.  Chironomidae do have a pair of prolegs at each end and preserved individuals tend to curl into a 'C'.  Identification past family requires slide-mounted heads.  We have seen philopotamid caddisflies misidentified with the chironomids and we suspect that that happens when samples are being sorted from trays.  Under a microscope, six prominent legs can be seen on members of the family Philopotamidae.

ORDER: Trichoptera
FAMILY: Rhyacophilidae
GENUS: Rhyacophila

In our lab, Rhyacophila is known as the "Michelin Man" due to its large banded body. It has a very obviously checker-patterned head. It also has a terrifying anal claw which has large accessory hooks. SMC

ORDER: Diptera

Pupae from the order Diptera are typically found in small numbers at every site. These can be identified further, but we do not.

 

Hexatoma sp. Tipulidae - photo by Wayne Davis USEPA
© US EPA

ORDER: Diptera
FAMILY: Tipulidae
GENUS:
Hexatoma

This Tipulidae can be identified by the swollen 7th abdominal segment.

ORDER: Trichoptera
FAMILY:
Hydropsychidae
GENUS: Cheumatopsyche

Cheumatopsyche has a forked foretrochantin (as does Ceratopsyche). The foretrochantin is the projection at the uppermost portion of the front leg closest to the head. The leg may need to be pulled away from the body to expose this feature.

Cheumatopsyche have a small or inconspicuous pair of sclerites under the prosternal plate that are difficult to see.  Contrast that with the larger pair of sclerites found on CeratopsycheTo access sclerites, it's best to gently pull the pronotum and mesonotum in opposite directions. Note: the large single sclerite is the prosternal plate.

Cheumatopsyche have only 2 types of hair on the abdomen: long thin plain hairs and thicker club hairs, which are narrow close to the body and widen out at the distal end. Paired sclerites on the ninth abdominal segment are notched. SMC

ORDER: Trichoptera
FAMILY: Lepidostomatidae
 

These have lateral humps on the first abdominal segments, but lack a dorsal hump. The dorsa of the first two thoracic segments are sclerotized. They are frequently found in four-sided cases made of square pieces of detritus.

The images are not a substitute for keying, but should serve as an aid in identifying common macroinvertebrates in samples.

Feedback - Partner schools: send us specimens not included above.  Taxonomists: click to email: Declan McCabe
This site is supported by Vermont EPSCoR grant from the National Science Foundation (EPS #0701410).
©2008 Saint Michael's College
One Winooski Park, Colchester, Vermont, USA 05439 | 802.654.2000 |
Privacy Policy