Surrounded by the calls of Red-bellied Woodpeckers and golden leaves gently floating to the ground, Loudoun Wildlife’s Stream Team recently conducted a benthic macroinvertebrate survey of Sweet Run. Sweet Run is a tributary of Piney Run and is located within the Blue Ridge Center for Environmental Stewardship in Neersville.
The team, led by John Ellis, conducted the maximum of four sampling events allowed by the Virginia Save Our Streams protocol to reach the minimum number of benthic macroinvertebrates required for a valid survey. Out of the 332 macros collected that day, the majority of the sample consisted of netspinning caddisflies, midges, caddisflies, and mayflies – along with some beetles, fishflies, and aquatic worms.
The team took the individual tallies and plugged them into various metrics to get a multimetric index stream health score. The stream scored a 10 out of 12, indicating acceptable ecological conditions.
In addition to macros, the team also netted two Northern Two-lined salamanders – one in the larval stage and one adult. The team recorded these observations on Loudoun Wildlife’s Reptiles and Amphibians Project on iNaturalist.
As part of the Stream Team’s Salt Watch program in partnership with the Izaak Walton League of America to monitor pollution from road salt, they also tested the chloride level of the stream. The stream had a chloride reading of 25 ppm, which was well within the normal limits of up to 100 ppm.