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Invertebrates & Amphibians
 Invertebrates are animals without backbones. This simple
definition hides the tremendous diversity found within this group
which includes protozoa (single-celled animals), corals, sponges,
sea urchins, starfish, sand dollars, worms, snails, clams, spiders,
crabs, and insects. In fact, more than 98 percent of the nearly two
million described species are invertebrates.
Invertebrates are ectotherms (cold-blooded): they warm their
bodies by absorbing heat from their surroundings. Most
invertebrates live in water or spend at least some part of their life
in water.
 Adulthood stage – focus is on reproduction, or “HATCH” and they
don’t eat during this stage.
• Lay eggs in under or around water – most are carnivorous
These insects are mostly in their immature form and live their adult life on land,
sometimes for only a few hours. Most aquatic insects can be divided into two
groups: ones that develop through complete metamorphosis, and ones that
develop through incomplete metamorphosis.
Metamorphosis is the change that occurs during the organism's development from
egg to adult. Some aquatic insects develop through complete metamorphosis,
which consists of four stages. These immature insects are called larvae and the do
not resemble the adults, and in fact, may look grossly different. During the pupae
stage, the organisms inhabit a "cocoon-like" structure where the transformation
from larvae to adult occurs.
Incomplete metamorphosis has three main stages of development (except for the
mayfly that has two winged growing stages). These immature insects are called
nymphs and they undergo a series of molts until the last decisive molt transforms
the organism into an adult or imago in mayflies. There is no intermediate pupae
stage where transformation occurs. The nymphs resemble the adults closely
except for wing development.
It's a good sign if mothlike caddisflies are present near lakes
and other bodies of water, because it means pollution levels
are low and the quality of water is good.
Life Cycle and Habitat
Caddisflies live near bodies of water.
Females usually lay hundreds of eggs in a large mass.
Caddisfly development lasts several months and goes
through four stages, culminating with the insect developing
its wings. Caddisflies live mostly as aquatic bugs. The
lifespan of an adult is so short (often just a couple days at
the most), it does not even feed. Larval stages, on the other
hand, feed on plants, algae and other insects underwater.
Adult Cranefly
CraneFly “mosquito on Roids”
• Crane Flies mate on plants near water or in mid-air over the water,
depending on the species. Adult Crane Flies do not eat. They have only
one purpose, to mate and lay eggs.
• Female Crane Flies lay eggs in water or in moist soil near the water. If a
Crane Fly lays them in water, she will stick the tip of her abodmen under
the surface and the eggs will sink to the bottom. If a Crane Fly lays her
eggs in soil, she uses her ovipositor to inject them below the soil surface.
• The larvae of aquatic species (also called "water worms") will live most of
their lives on the bottom of the stream or lake under dead leaves or other
debris. Larvae of terrestrial (land) species, live in mud or wet moss near
the water.
• All Crane Fly larvae eat decaying plants, dead leaves, fungi, or roots of
Damselfly “Bluet”
DamselFly • The Damselfly (Suborder Zygoptera) is an insect in the
Order Odonata. Damselflies are similar to dragonflies, but
the adults can be differentiated by the fact that the wings
of most damselflies are held along the body when at rest.
The adult has four wings that fold over the back.
Damselflies undergo incomplete metamorphosis, with an
aquatic nympal stage. Molts 10 – 12 times before
adulthood is reached While clinging to this vegetation the
nymph's skin breaks along the wing case and out crawls a
shortened version of the adult. Before taking flight, the
new adult must pump body fluids into its abdomen and
wings. Depending on the species, the adult will live for
several weeks to several months before mating and dying.
• This animal spends most of its life (two to three years) as a
larva, living underwater. \
• Hellgrammites live under rocks to avoid predators, especially
fish. They ambush other animals, especially aquatic insects,
such as larvae of dragonflies, damselflies, stoneflies, and
• Hellgrammites have strong jaws and can draw blood from a
human if not handled carefully.
• They use these jaws to take apart their prey. Hellgrammites
also have little hooks on their abdomens which allow them to
grab onto items so that they don't get swept away in the
current. Hellgrammites are not very good swimmers. They
move mostly by crawling.
Because of its short lifespan, the mayfly is called one-day or one-day
There are four different types of mayflies: clingers, crawlers,
burrowers, and swimmers. Each different type of mayfly includes a
variety of mayflies and hatches
Life Cycle: Adult mayflies are very short lived, surviving only one or
two nights. During that time the adults mate in swarms in the air. They
are also attracted to lights. Eggs are deposited while flying low over
the water, or by dipping the abdomen on the water surface or some
even submerge themselves and lay eggs underwater. Adult females
lay eggs into water and often die on the water surface. Immature
stages develop through several stages (instars) by molting during
development. The number of molts varies depending on the species,
temperature and water conditions. Immature stages then swim to the
water surface or crawl onto rocks or plants.
Mayflies are the only group of insects that molt after they have wings.
In all other orders winged forms are as only found on adult forms, the
last stage of development. A typical life cycle will last one year.
• Metamorphosis: Incomplete (see our life cycle page for more
• Nymphs: possess two distinct "tails" called cerci, which are actually
sensory feelers; brightly colored in tan, brown, gold, and black; length
varies, up to 1 inch.
• Reproduction: females deposit eggs on top of water where they drift
down to the bottom.
• Adults: resemble nymphs, but possess a long air of wings folded down
the length of the body.
• Food:
• some stoneflies are carnivorous, others feed on algae, bacteria, and
vegetable debris; eaten by a variety of fish species.
• Indicator Role:
• Stonefly mandibles
• Indicates ample supply of oxygen, important food for coldwater fish
such as trout. One of the EPT taxa used to indicate cleaner waters.
Mostly found in the swift flow of stream riffles.
 A dragonfly is an insect belonging to the order Odonata,
characterized by large multifaceted eyes, two pairs of strong,
transparent wings, and an elongated body. Dragonflies are
similar to damselflies, but adults hold their wings away from,
and perpendicular to the body when at rest.
Dragonflies typically eat mosquitoes and other small insects.
They are valued as predators, since they help control
populations of harmful insects. Dragonflies are usually found
around lakes, ponds, streams and wetlands because their
larvae, known as "nymphs", are aquatic. Adult dragonflies do
not bite or sting humans, though nymphs are capable of
delivering a painful but harmless bite. Pre Date Dinosaurs by
over 100 million years
Water Penny
Water Penny Beetles
 Larvae:
 resemble circular encrustations on rocks; sucker-like; colored
green, black, but usually tan or brown; length usually no more
than 1/2 inch.
 Reproduction:
 adult females crawl into water and deposit eggs on undersides
of stones.
 Adults:
 typical beetle shaped-body; resemble an extremely large riffle
beetle (not truly aquatic; can be found on emergent rocks in
 Food:
 primarily plant debris such as algae and diatoms.
 Indicator Role:
 indicates ample supply of oxygen, and fast flow of water.
Pollution Tolerance
Sensitive Benthos
Water Penny Beetles
Riffle Beetles
Moderately Tolerant Benthos
Pollution Tolerant Benthos
Midge flies
Pouch Snails
Macroinvertebrate Identification
American Toad
American Toad
• American Toad
• How to Identify: 2 - 4 1/2 in. (5.1-8.9 cm);
brown to red to olive; dark, warty skin;
elongated glands found at the ridge behind
the eye or connected by a short spur. Habitat:
Common in a variety of habitats wherever
there are insects, moisture, and a variety of
shallow waters for breeding.
• Breeding: April through June.
Wood Frog
Spring Peeper
Spring Peeper
 The male's advertisement call is a series of sharp,
piercing, bird-like peeps repeated about once per
second of faster. Distant chorus may sound like
tinkling of sleigh bells. Breeds throughout the east
in ditches, pools, and ponds, from spring to early
summer in the north and from winter to spring in
the south. Spring Peepers are nocturnal carnivores,
emerging at night to primarily feed on small
invertebrates such as beetles, ants, flies, and
spiders.[2] They do not climb high into trees but
hunt in low vegetation. Spring Peepers living in
deep damp forests are active hunters both day and
Green Frog
Difference between Green and Bull Frogs
An adult bullfrog's body measures 8 inches, while green frogs measure 4 inches. Green
frogs have pronounced, protruding eyes; bullfrog eyes are set deeper into the
head and are less elevated. Green frogs have a variety of species with different
colors and markings, compared with the standard green and brown bullfrog color.
A green frog's tympanum is more conspicuous than a bullfrog's tympanum, which
blends with its body color. The green frog has raised dorsal-lateral ridges that run
down both sides of its legs. A bullfrog's ridges wrap around the tympanum
(eardrum) and stop at the base of the eardrum.
Read more: Difference Between a Bullfrog & a Green Frog |