February is not usually a month for benthic macroinvertebrate collection. However, Stream Monitoring Program Coordinator Amy Ulland made an exception and collected a small number of macros for people to investigate and identify at her Creek Critters of Loudoun program at the Rust Library on the afternoon of February 6. The event, co-sponsored by Loudoun Wildlife and the Loudoun County Public Libraries, attracted 23 participants who learned about the natural history of the main insect larval orders found in local streams and why they are important in helping us understand the health of these streams.
Following Amy’s presentation, folks had the opportunity to use Magiscopes and magnifying lenses to get a better view of an assortment of macros that included the Winter Stonefly, Flatheaded Mayfly, Midge, Riffle Beetle, Water Penny, Netspinner Caddisfly and Mayfly. Some of the winter stoneflies actually started to emerge as adults that afternoon! Participants used a combination of field guides and dichotomous keys to identify the creek critters and enjoyed being able to see their specialized body parts, such as gills and predatory mandibles, up close.