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Macroinvertebrates home

Streams project

 

Indian Brook (LCD_IndBrk_639)

These are the most common macroinvertebrates identified from samples from Indian Brook by Central Street in Essex, Vermont.

Click on images to zoom in. 

ORDER: Coleoptera
FAMILY:
Elmidae

We have found adult and larval riffle beetles. The adults are clearly beetles, but the larvae can be confused with other orders. The forward pointing tooth on the front end of the larvae as described in the key can be a challenge to see, particularly in small individuals.

Larvae are characterized by having a single tarsal claw at the end of their legs, which have 4 segments. Adults, on the other hand, have two tarsal claws at the end of each leg.

Commonly encountered genera include Dubiraphia, Macronychus, Optioservus, Phanocerus, Promoresia, and Stenelmis.

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: 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: 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: 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

PHYLUM: Annelida
CLASS: Oligochaeta

Aquatic earthworms lack legs and are characterized by having 20 or more segments. Unlike leeches, they lack a suction disk.

ORDER: Diptera
FAMILY: Tipulidae
GENUS: Antocha

This small Diptera in the cranefly family is quite common.  It is distinguished from most other dipterans we found by the 'creeping welts' that appear as prominent dark stripes along the abdomen.  The dark head is usually partly exposed; however, it can be pulled back into the thoracic cavity during preservation.
NABS

ORDER: Trichoptera
FAmily: Limnephilidae
 

This family of Trichoptera is characterized by having sclerotization on the dorsal surface of the first two thoracic segments. Also,  it has a dorsal hump on the first abdominal segment, along with two lateral humps. Here, on a more mature specimen, one can see the prosternal horn characteristic of it and another family, the Uenoidae.

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: Hemiptera
FAmily: Veliidae
 

This family of Hempitera actually lives on the surface of the water, but can sometimes float into the net while taking benthic samples.

Veliidae is characterized by the claw of the foreleg; it is inserted before the apex. Also, its hind leg has a beautiful fan of hydrofuge hairs.

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

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
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