Yesterday was World Oceans Day and to celebrate, I want to talk aquatic insects. Even though insects have colonized much of the earth, they are pretty rare when it comes to marine environments. There are insects that colonize salt marshes and other near-ocean areas, but only a handful are truly considered marine. However, there are many species that are aquatic, and since all water flows to the ocean, it is not too much of a stretch to talk about those species a little farther upstream from our very important oceans. Aquatic insects are important indicator species. Depending on species present and numbers, it can indicate if a waterway is healthy or not. Some species prefer brackish water, others quickly flowing and highly oxygenated waters. One of my favorite aquatic insect groups is the dobsonflies (family Corydalidae). These have HUGE adults (for insects!) and the males have these giant mandibles that are almost as long as their body! Larvae are called hellgrammites and look almost as fearsome. They live in streams and feed on all kinds of small aquatic animals including other insects, tadpoles, and small fish. It can take up to three years until they are ready to pupate and emerge as adults. These are extremely beneficial insects and typically indicate healthy, unpolluted streams.
Check out (and “like”!) the Digital Museum of Natural History and the pictures they have of some great North American species of dobsonflies:
Also for some more detailed information on dobsonflies see the University of Florida’s “Featured Creatures“.
So what’s your favorite aquatic insect? Comment below and share the love!
And don’t forget to like and share this post with your friends. You know they secretly love insects as much as you do, they are just scared to admit it.