Sensitive

Moderate

Tolerant

Aquatic Macro-invertebrate Identification

Kingdom   Phylum  Class  Order  Family  Genus  Species

*Guide created and illustrated by Rennie Winkelman*

Field ID Considerations

 

  • Look at a lot of bugs!

  • ID gets easier the more bugs you try to id

  • May not be accurate all the time – can get close enough

  • A lot of ID characteristics are not visible in the field

  • Take a sample specimen to confirm under a microscope

  • Use multiple resources

  • Think of your own ways to remember things (”armpit gills”

  • Don’t get discouraged!

  • Tolerance is only relative within families

  • Ex. Mayflies are still a fairly sensitive family in general – a stream with tolerant mayflies may be cleaner than a stream with only blackflies

Hover over each family to learn about identifying characteristics.

Use the menu on the right to switch between Order. 

Leptohyphidae

Ephemeroptera

Spiny, large, no gills on first couple abdominal segments

Gills on all segments

Heptageniidae

Ephemerillidae

Large gills covering the upper part of the abdomen

No large overlapping gills

Leptophlebiidae

Caenidae

Flattened head and body

Rounded head and body

Square operculate gills

Triangular operculate gills

Distinctively shaped gills

(forks, feathers)

Oval gills

Long antennae, small

Baetidae

Short antennae, bands on abdomen

Ameletidae

 
 
Plecoptera

Distinct, roach-like body, small

Body not roach-like

Peltoperlidae

Visible gills under legs

Neumoridae

Perlodidae

No visible gills under legs

Divergent wingpads and tails, long legs, neck gills

Wingpads not divergent

Dark color, gills on first abdominal segments, large

Patterned, no gills on abdomen

Long, slender body, light color

Dark patterns on thorax

Pteronarcyidae

Perlidae

Short tails, small oval wingpads

Chloroperlidae

Antennae and tails same length

Capniidae/

Leuctridaae

 
Trichoptera

*Note: Caddis may fall out of their cases during collection – do not rely only case based ID

No case

Case

Solid plates on all 3 seg. of thorax, bushy gills on abdomen

Hydropsychidae

Plate on only 1 seg. of thorax, no bushy gills

Plate and hooks at end of abdomen

Rhyacophilidae

Fleshy mouth, white, no hooks

Philopotamidae

Case not tube-shaped

Case tube-shaped

Glossosomatidae

Hydroptilidae

Helicopsychidae

Fine sand case, visible antennae

Leptoceridae

Coarse gravel or plant material case

Limnephilidae/

Uenoidae

Log-cabin shaped case, dark plate behind head

Brachycentridae

Case of plant material in quilt patches

Lepidostomatidae

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