Things You Find Under Rocks

This afternoon I tagged along with another naturalist who was teaching a lesson called stream study, which is exactly what it sounds like: students do some tests on the stream that runs through our property to assess how healthy it is.

The final (and most fun!) part is sampling for macroinvertebrates.  We flip over rocks on the stream bed and see what we find (specifically whether we find pollution-sensitive species).

Mayfly larvae can be identified by their three butt prongs.  I really need to learn the technical term for “butt prongs.”

There were also a lot of little freshwater clams.  It was so cool to put them in our containers and watch them open up.  How often do you actually get to see live clams wiggling around, doing their thing?  Not very often, if you’re me.

The coolest find was salamander eggs, which I photographed, showed to the kids, and then returned carefully to where they were.  I looove salamanders, so this pretty much made my day.  I’m far from an expert on salamander egg identification but my best guess would be two-lined.

Conclusion: our stream is pretty darn healthy.  Anyway, I have a job where I get paid to poke around under rocks and look at interesting things.  How awesome is that?

4 thoughts on “Things You Find Under Rocks”

  1. Rebecca, If you find a bug with three threadlike “butt prongs”, it IS a mayfly; HOWEVER, some mayflies only have TWO (as do the similar-looking stoneflies). If it has three FEATHERY prongs, it’s probably a damselfly.

    Mayflies have gills along their abdomens (“hairy legs”). Stoneflies have gills along the thorax (“hairy armpits”).

    If you wanna look REALLY close, the mayflies have ONE claw on their tarsus, while the stonefly has two.

    I REALLY like the term “butt prongs”, and will do everything within my power to slip it into casual conversations.

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