Although our new plantings are budding out, birds have been chirping away in search of mates and territory, and springtime has been in the air, it took a definite pause to revert to very wintery weather last week. Weather was predicted to bring very cold temperatures, but little did we know we would have snow and a late start school day because of the cold! A little drop in temperatures couldn’t stop discovery from happening at Glencoe High School, though.
Meghan and Gina (SOLVE) walked out into the wetland to the portion of McKay Creek near our Willow plantings and collected samples of macroinvertebrates, aquatic insects in the stream big enough to see with the naked eye. They brought their catch into the classroom to examine with the students. Even though we are at the tail end of winter and the water levels were high, we still found some incredible little organisms in the stream!
We look at macroinvertebrates not only because they are very interesting insects with interesting life cycles, but also because their presence or absence in a stream can indicate the health of the stream. Certain species of macroinvertebrates are more sensitive to pollution while others can live in fairly polluted conditions. These macroinvertebrates can live as nymphs or larvae for around two years and thus they give us information about the stream over a broad amount of time- not just at that one, specific moment.
We found many interesting bugs in McKay Creek! We found case maker caddisflies which have made an organic shield for themselves out of Duckweed, Reed Canary Grass, and twigs. We also found damselflies which will turn into bright blue flies (very similar to dragonflies), mayflies, diptera, water boatmen, and more.
We are excited to get back out into the stream in the early summer to see what bugs we may find then! When we look at macroinvertebrates next time, we will tally up our samples and have data that will indicate the water quality.
Thanks to all for respecting the macroinvertebrates by handling them carefully, identifying their scientific names, and asking many great questions!
Thank you, Clean Water Services for funding this project!