Do you know your aquatic macroinvertebrates, aka macros? The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission ran a fun #MysteryMacro Facebook quiz in 2018, posting questions each Friday and answers on Mondays. You can search for #MysteryMacro on Facebook to see all posts with that tag.
Scroll down to try your hand at identifying a few of the mystery macros!
What Are Macroinvertebrates and Why Are They Important?
Macroinvertebrates, or “macros” for short, are animals without a backbone that can be seen with the naked eye. These bottom-dwelling animals include crustaceans and worms but most are aquatic insects. Beetles, caddisflies, stoneflies, mayflies, hellgrammites, dragonflies, true flies, and some moths are among the groups of insects represented in streams.
Macros are an important link in the food web between the producers (leaves, algae) and higher consumers such as fish. Scientists have found macroinvertebrates to be useful for biomonitoring because:
- They are fairly easy to sample and identify.
- They are sensitive to pollution and changes in their habitats.
- They have a relatively long life cycle and so are indicators of water quality over a period of time.
- They are common in most streams or rivers.
Did you know? The Stroud Center’s Leaf Pack Network® features a simple experiment you can perform using leaves and macroinvertebrates to determine the health of your local stream.
Can You Solve These Mysteries?
All of the #MysteryMacro posts on this page feature photographs by Stroud Center entomologist David Funk. Funk has been taking pictures of insects for more than 30 years and has developed special equipment for taking in-stream photos of aquatic insects. You can find dozens of his outstanding photos in our Macroinvertebrate Photo Gallery, one of many useful links on our Macroinvertebrate Resources page.
Scroll through the posts below to see the photos and read the clues. Write down the mystery macro numbers with your guesses (they’re looking for common names). Click the button at the bottom of the page to see the answers.