Your journey on this Quest will be made up of 5 major parts.









Your Directions below are in red



Pond Spider Web ©2007 Mr Cassis


Start Here and use the site below about copyright to review what you may and may not copy or use from your research sources.  Use this site to also help you to give credit as well as provide citations of any work from others that you decide to use in your Field Guide





Step 1


a-What is a bigger reason for participating and completing this Quest? Discuss with your team your thoughts. Use the link below to understand more.

--> Stream Study - University of Virginia

Why Study Macroinvertebrates Anyway?

b-Open the next pdf file below. It is a manual with 65 pages. Scroll to the start of the Aquatic Macroinvertebrate 6 page section (page 42 to 47) Read through this section with your team and then discuss what you will need to get ready for your field trip(s) to the pond and stream. Consider what should your team should take for the trip? Are there any modifications you should make that are different than discussed?

Collection Bucket & Net ©2006 MrCassis

--> Streamwatch New South Wales Australia

 Streamwatch manual-pdf

The Streamwatch manual is a step by step guide to Streamwatch water monitoring tests. Scroll to the start of the Aquatic Macroinvertebrate 6 page section (page 42 to 47) Read through this section with your team


 c-There are many pre-made collection forms that could possibly be used to record what is found in the field. Review the one at the link below and discuss with your team what to add or remove from this example. Then either use it directly, or make up a new one that meets the needs of your team.

--> Stream Study - University of Virginia

Sample Record & Water Quality Assessment Form




Step 2

Great! You should now be back in the classroom/lab with your collected samples to identify.

Below are several sites that you can use to KEY OUT (identify) the organism you have. Use the microscope and camera set up as well as any magnifier loops you need. Examine your specimen(s) closely and pick one of the links below that your team feels would be the best fit. The aim is to identify what the critter is. Then once you know what you have, you can use other resources to gather detailed information about the organism to use in creating your Field Guide.    

**This is the time to be using the camera to capture images and video clips of each of your samples to use in your final Field Guide.


P.S. I highly recommend that you consider using the Coastal Maine KEY since we live in Maine.


 Boys Discover New Life ©2007 MrCassis


--> Key to Pond Insects of Coastal Maine

Please be Patient at this site, it takes a while to load-- Large multimedia interactive file with photos and video clips. Read the selections on each slide then click on the number you want and it will jump you to the next slide.

--> Stream Study - University of Virginia

Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Identification Key - online

--> The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre – Victoria, Australia

Identify Your Bug KEY -online

--> New York Department of Environmental Conservation

Photo Key to Aquatic Macroinvertebrates

--> Illinois RiverWatch Network: Citizen Scientist Resources Illinois, USA

RiverWatch Macroinvertebrate ID Key - pdf booklet




Step 3

At this point you should have Keyed Out (identified) each of the organisms your team collected. Now use the links below to research the details you need to create your Field Guide


This is the list of facts & information that must be included for each organism you have in your Field Guide

Requirements for Information to include in Field Guide for Each Specimen

1.     A photo and/or a hand drawn illustration (include labels of body parts)

2.    a video clip -optional-

3.    Common Name

4.    Classification down to Order

5.    Unique distinguishing body parts/features that help identify

6.    Type of Metamorphosis (if an arthropod)

7.    Life Cycle

8.    Water Quality Indicator (number/group/level)

9.    Any anecdotal information you wish to include


Now dive into the resources below & discover as much as you can to use to

develop your Guide.


--> Aquatic Entomology: The Fishermen's and Ecologists' Illustrated Guide to Insects and Their Relatives -- By W. Patrick McCafferty- Google Book exerpt

--> The Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre – Victoria Australia

Identification &  Ecology of Australian Freshwater Invertebrates Listings

Interactive guides with colour digital imagery to assist in the identification of aquatic invertebrates -pdf files

general macroinvertebrates

Insecta (insects)

Coleoptera (beetles)

Diptera (flies)

Ephemeroptera (mayflies)

Hemiptera (bugs)

Megaloptera (alderflies, dobsonflies)

Neuroptera (lacewings, spongeflies)

Odonata (damselflies, dragonflies)

Plecoptera (stoneflies)

Trichoptera (caddisflies)

Crustacea (crustaceans) 

Malacostraca (malacostracans)

Amphipoda (side swimmers)

Decapoda (yabbies, crayfish, shrimps, prawns, crabs)

Isopoda (water slaters)

--> Creek Connections-partnership between Allegheny College and regional K-12 schools in Northwest Pennsylvania, Southwest New York, and the Pittsburgh area.

Specific Aquatic Insect Fact Sheets Index - pdf



Blackfly Larva

Case-building Caddisfly Larva

Cranefly Larva


Dameselfly Nymph

Dobsonfly Larva

Dragonfly Nymph

Fishfly Larva


Mayfly Nymph

Midge Larva

Mosquito Larva

Net-spinning Caddisfly Larva

Predacious Diving Beetle

Riffle Beetle


Stonefly Nymph


Water Penny

Water Scorpion

Water Strider

Whirligig Beetle

--> Environmental Protection Agency (USA) –

Benthic Macroinvertebrates in Our Waters

--> Illinois RiverWatch Network: Citizen Scientist Resources Illinois USA

Macroinvertebrate Photo Atlas (2006) -pdf

--> (USA) --Aquatic Insects of American Trout Streams

Photos of Aquatic Insects

List by Common Names of Aquatic Insects

Video Clips of Aquatic Insects

--> NSW (Australia) - Waterwatch Program

Waterbug Detective Guide -pdf

Freshwater Macroinvertebrates ... and where you might find them-pdf

Very Tolerent Bugs-pdf

Tolerent Bugs-pdf

Sensitive & Very Sensitive Bugs -pdf

--> Streamwatch New South Wales Australia
Streamwatch water bug guide-pdf.



Step 4

The links below provide additional information that will enhance your understanding of the creatures you discovered and help you learn more of their connection and importance to our environment and quality of life.


--> Creek Connections-partnership between Allegheny College and regional K-12 schools in Northwest Pennsylvania, Southwest New York, and the Pittsburgh area.

 Aquatic Macroinvertebrate Activities

--> NSW - Waterwatch Program (Australia)

Junior Waterwatch Field Guide

--> South Australia Waterwatch

Critter Catalogue

--> Waterwatch – Queensland Australia

Water bug & riparian vegetation snapshot (PDF, 370 kB)* — Instructions on how to do the snapshot.

Water bug identification booklet (PDF, 1.04 MB)* — This booklet has been taken from the Queensland community waterway monitoring manual.

Record Sheet- Basic Level (PDF, 108 kB)* — Use this sheet to record which water bugs have been found in the waterway you are monitoring. It also includes a simple method for deciding how polluted the waterway is.



Step 5

Now that you have collected and identified the macroinvertebrates from our ponds and streams, it's time to look closely at the numbers and diversity of the organisms we found. The record sheet you looked at at the beginning of our quest had a calculator built in. But the links below let you enter in your data and give you a result. This result will give us an indication of how clean and healthy the water/environment is that we share with the organisms collected.  How did we do?  What do the results show or tell you? Do the results show a need for anything to be done to improve the water quality? How would your team present your results to our town selectmen or other committees?



--> Illinois RiverWatch Network: Citizen Scientist Resources

Macroinvertebrate Biotic Index Calculator

This tool automates the calculation of the Macroinvertebrate Biotic Index as an indicator of water quality. Javascript must be enabled on your browser.

--> Creek Connections

Pollution Tolerance Index - .doc form



Thanks for your efforts and participation!!

You have worked hard and collected valuable information about the world and specifically the community you live in.

We share our environment with a hidden world of life that so many are unaware of. Their presence in our world enhances the quality of our lives. Their absence diminishes the quality of life.

Respect all life as precious.

Protect our Planet for all living things.


Life in the Pond