Mariton: Camp – Aquatic Insects

August 1, 2012

by Tim Burris, Preserve Manager.  Photos by Carole Mebus

Aquatic insects are exciting because they can tell us a lot about water quality.  Some species are tolerant of water pollution, while other species indicate a creek is free of pollution and has lots of oxygen.  I reached out to the Fry’s Run Watershed Association (FRWA) to see if they could help us out with our camp.  Since about a third of Mariton is in the Fry’s Run watershed, it makes sense to use their expertise and enthusiasm.

Jere Haas demonstrates fly tying.

They arranged to have Jere Haas demonstrate tying flies that simulate the aquatic insects found in local waterways.  Jere’s easygoing narration kept the children spellbound.  While transforming bits of thread, feathers and fur into lures, he weaved the story of how aquatic insects lay their eggs in water.  Aquatic larvae and nymphs then develop underwater, before emerging as adults into the air.  These insects provide food for fish at every stage of development, and a successful flyfisherman has to be a stream ecologist to understand what the fish are feeding on in that stream at any given time.

Bob Schmidt helping children identify insects.

Then Bob Schmidt and Jeff McGuire of FRWA taught the children how to use kicknets and identify the things we found in Fry’s Run.  We ended up with a good catch of 6 or 7 species, most of which were all indicators of good water quality.  I was impressed, considering we decided to go farther upstream this year (where dry periods have a bigger effect on water quality).

Checking the kicknet.

Some more photos from the morning:

Jere spinning magic.

Finished flies.