Summer Strolls in Streams, Part 2

For the dragonfly survey this summer, Julia and I selected 30 sites and visited them each three times, so it was a busy six weeks of zigzagging all over the place from Florida to Monterey. (Yes, those are both towns in western Massachusetts.) It was along the Cold River at the Florida site that we got a good look at a bear during our first visit on July 26. When we returned on August 10, we got to see something equally thrilling but on a smaller scale: the intricate net constructed by a net-spinning caddisfly larva (Hydropsychidae). The function of this net is to catch food (algae, detritus, bugs, etc.) as it is swept downstream, so these are only found in reasonably fast-moving streams. I had the camera ready this time, but because the net was just below the turbulent water surface, getting a picture of it in focus was challenging. This is the best shot I (or maybe Julia) was able to manage:

But the camera did a reasonable job of staying in focus when in video mode, so you can get a better sense of the shape of the net here:

There seems to be a little larva in the right edge of the net in addition to the larger larva in the middle, which presumably made the net. Not sure what that other one might be. Here’s another attempt:

Later that day, in the East Branch of the North River in Colrain: Other insects were shedding their skins on the banks and emergent stones besides the dragonflies we were after. Here are the exuviae of a mayfly (Isonychiidae: Isonychia) and three water striders:

And a stonefly:

There is some kind of caddisfly that makes cases out of pebbles and gets together in big aggregations on the sides of rocks—maybe just when the larvae are getting ready to pupate.

A handsome green frog:

August 11, along a muddy stretch of the Konkapot River: a leaf of red osier dogwood with rows of dark spots indicating where sawfly eggs were inserted.

Spotting dragonfly exuviae on vegetation was trickier than on rocks, but I noticed this one’s face peeking out among the pinnae of a sensitive fern frond.

Later that day in the East Branch of the Housatonic River, some artwork created by a bird (heron?) standing on the tops of curved boulders and pooping.

We packed in five sites that day, and at the last one we were rewarded with dinner: oyster mushrooms…

…and chicken of the woods.

Also at this site was a green frog perched atop a tall, steep-sided boulder. I don’t really understand how it got up there.

A fancy adult caddisfly…

…and on the shore, leaf mines of Ophiomyia congregata (Agromyzidae) on rattlesnake-root (Asteraceae: Nabalus). By watching individual plants in the woods behind my house a few years ago, I determined that this the larva of this fly starts mining leaves in midsummer, then overwinters in the crown of the plant, mining into the petioles of new leaves in the spring and ultimately pupating there.

August 13, along the murky Fort River: Leaf mines in beggar-ticks (Asteraceae: Bidens sp.) made by Liriomyza carphephori (Agromyzidae), a species I described with Owen Lonsdale and Tracy Feldman last year. There are three larvae in this leaflet, visible as yellow dots toward the base.

At the same site, some monkeyflower (Phrymaceae: Mimulus ringens) in bloom, with what I assumed at the time was a leaf mine of Ophiomyia mimuli (Agromyzidae), a species I described with Owen Lonsdale two years ago—and I’m still thinking that’s probably right, but later in August I discovered there is another option on this host plant. More on that later…

Later that day, we met this distinctive moss along the Swift River. The auto-ID function on iNaturalist suggests it’s a Fissidens, which seems plausible but I really have no idea.

Okay, that’s how far I got with the photos yesterday. Maybe I’ll finish today?

About Charley Eiseman

I am a freelance naturalist, endlessly fascinated by the interconnections of all the living and nonliving things around me. I am the lead author of Tracks & Sign of Insects and Other Invertebrates (Stackpole Books, 2010), and continue to collect photographs and information on this subject. These days I am especially drawn to galls, leaf mines, and other plant-insect interactions.
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5 Responses to Summer Strolls in Streams, Part 2

  1. dvaunhowe says:

    I appreciate your appreciation of often-overlooked beauty. I think I will look into increasing the fungal diversity of my yard. and I don’t know why I don’t find Mimulus. I need to add that to my list. thanks for the post!

  2. Roger Rittmaster says:

    Yep, the moss is Fissidens. iNat was correct. To ID it to species one needs to know its size, where the sporophytes arise (at the middle/base of the fronds vs the tip), whether the leaf edges have a light-colored border (seen by holding the frond up to the light and looking through a hand lens) and whether the tips of the leaves are toothed (often requires a microscope). I only know this because I just took the time to ID one to species!

    • Thanks! This morning I checked Jerry Jenkins’ “Mosses of the Northern Forest” posters that we currently have plastered over the walls of our kitchen, and it did seem like Fissidens was the only one that came close.

  3. Jillian H Cowles says:

    What was the camera used for the underwater macro shots and video? That footage blew me away! Pretty darn incredible!

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