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Aquatic Insects

Did you check out the Mystery Monday video shared yesterday? We asked our investigators to determine how many aquatic insects were in the video taken at the Timberman Ridge Area of Forest Run MetroPark. Did you take a guess? If not, then watch the video below before reading any further.

 

 

There were 7 insects in the video—4 water scorpions, 1 dragonfly nymph, 1 whirligig beetle, and 1 beetle larva! Were you able to spot them all? Some were more noticeable, while others took a very keen eye to see.

Water scorpions are the long, skinny insects in the video. They are predacious insects in the Hemiptera, or True Bug family. They use those strong two front legs to grab their prey, such as invertebrates, small fish, and tadpoles. Water scorpions have a breathing tube on the rear end of their abdomen, formed by two half-tube-like appendages that creates a snorkel of sorts. As an air breather, the water scorpions keep the tip of this tube at the surface at the water in order to breath. This can be seen in the video!

• The dragonfly nymph is resting on the bottom of the container, trying to camouflage in the substrate for most of this video. Toward the second half of the video, it can be seen moving around at the bottom. Did you know that dragonfly eggs are laid directly in or near water? Dragonfly larvae are great predators, and will capture insect larvae, tadpoles, fish, worms, leeches, and many others! They can develop for months to years, depending on the species. Once ready, they will climb out of the water onto aquatic plants and shed their skin to reveal the winged adult dragonfly!

• The whirligig beetle is the insect seen swimming round and round in the video. They swim on the surface of the water and are named for their irregular swimming patterns. One benefit to swimming this way is that is confuses predators! This is considered a behavioral adaptation of the whirligig beetle. A physical adaptation the insect has to protect itself from predators, is its eyes are divided into two parts—one part can see above the water, while the other sees below the water. This helps to see predators from below (such as fish), and above (such as birds).

• The beetle larva is the trickiest to find in the video. It’s the smallest insect in the container and is circled in the photo below. Most beetle larvae are carnivores, while some eat plant material. There are many different species of beetles that spend all or part of their lives around water and are commonly found in ponds!

 

 

Don’t forget to check out the Creeking in the Parks programs with MetroParks and Butler Soil and Water Conservation District. You won’t want to miss out on these fun programs! There are only two left this summer. More information can be found here!