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Macroinvertebrates home

Streams project

 

Allen Brook (WR_AllnBrk_361)

These are the most common macroinvertebrates identified from samples from Allen Brook by Allen Brook Lane in Williston.

Click on images to zoom in. 

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: Philopotamidae

GENUS: Chimarra

Chimarra are distinguished from the other Philopotamidae by a prominent asymmetrical notch in the frontoclypeus as well as a prominent process on the femora which bears a single hair (seta). 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: Trichoptera
FAMILY:
Hydropsychidae
GENUS: Ceratopsyche

Ceratopsyche has a forked foretrochantin. The foretrochantin is the projection at the uppermost portion of the foreleg. The leg may need to be pulled away from the body to expose this feature.

Ceratopsyche have a large pair of sclerites underneath the prosternum. Note: the large single sclerite is the prosternal plate. SMC

 

 

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: Coleoptera
FAMILY: Elmidae
GENUS: Stenelmis

The larvae of Stenelmis, as in Ordobrevia, have a sternum on the ventral side of the pronotum. The main difference between the two genera is in the antennae- the second segment is less than twice as long as the first in Stenelmis.

The adult Stenelmis has a clear separation between the thorax and abdomen as well as a more distinctly separate head as compared to other genera. 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.

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: 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

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: Ephemeroptera
FAMILY: Baetidae
 

This mayfly has either two or three cerci ("tails") and a unique head shape. Its gills are oval shaped and insert dorsally.

Commonly encountered genera include Acerpenna, Baetis, and Pseudocloeon.

ORDER: Coleoptera
FAM
ILY: Psephenidae
GEN
US:
Psephenus

The true "water penny" is commonly found in the waters sampled. Psephenus has a rounded shape with relatively smooth edge. The false water penny, whose edges are serrated, has a more oval appearance. The gills on the ventral surface are found only in the true water pennies. SMC

Another genus encountered in this family is Ectopria.

 

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: Coleoptera
FAMILY: Hydrophilidae
 

This beetle has one tarsal claw at the end of each leg. It is characterized by conspicuous mandibles and also by several simple eyes instead of compound eyes.

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: Trichoptera (pupae)

Frequently pupae cannot easily be keyed down to family, so we leave them at order. Trichopteran pupae have prominent mandibles moving against each other.

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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