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Macroinvertebrates home

Streams project

 

Lamoille River

These are the sixteen most common macroinvertebrates identified from samples from Lamoille River at the Cottage Street Bridge in Hardwick.

Click on images to zoom in. 

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: 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: 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: Plecoptera
FAMILY: Perlidae
GENUS: Hansonoperla

The occiput of this stonefly has no ridge or line of spinules, and the postocular fringe consists of a few thin setae rather than several thick setae. The pronotum has only a few thin setae at the corners, which may be faint and difficult to see. Also, the eyes are set rather far forward on the head, making it quite distinctive from other genera we normally find. The stout abdomen and overall body shape of Hansonoperla closely resembles that of the family Chloroperlidae, but don't let the resemblance fool you- Hansonoperla is a perlid and therefore has gills on its thoracic segments; Chloroperlidae does not.

PHYLUM: Annelida
CLASS: Oligochaeta

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


© 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: 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: 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: Plecoptera
FAMILY: Perlidae
GENUS: Agnetina

The Agnetina has a rounded abdomen that appears to striped. The key defining characteristic is the three ocelli on the dorsum of the head (3 black dots at joint with the prosternum). Like other Plecoptera, it has 2 tails and 2 claws on its tarsi. SMC

This stonefly is characterized by the filamentous gills located in the "armpits". Another important feature is the paraglossae and glossae extending different lengths. The occiput has a transverse row of evenly spaced little hairs. Agnetina has another row of evenly spaced hairs on the posterior edge of abdominal segment 7.

 

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: 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.

 

 

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: 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: 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: 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

 

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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).
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