Freshwater Macroinvertebrate ID

Howdy! Does anyone have any good field guides or resources for getting to species or at least genus on aquatic macroinvertebrates? I realize this would probably mean different resources for different families, anything is welcome! Mayflies, water boatmen, midges, odonata, you name it! I’m in North Texas.


Are you only interested in insects?

This is a good start for freshwater snails.

I have more mollusk resources on my iNat profile.

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@mpintar do you know of any that are available?

A project that I created has almost all insect invertabrates -


By no means a field guide (it’s over a thousand pages long!), but Merritt and Cummins is the bible I learned aquatic inverts with, and still seems to be a standard text. Keys to take pretty much any North American aquatic insect to genus, with thousands of figures to help. But it looks like a 30 year old edition still runs $60+ on Abebooks, and the current edition is $200 at the publisher. So maybe see if there’s a friendly university in your area with a copy you could borrow?


Check out - it’s a gorgeous online guide designed for citizen science projects, with tons of beautiful high-res images of aquatic insects and an easily navigable interface. It may not take you to species level, but would be a helpful tool for familiarizing yourself with genera.


There is no “field guide” that can get you to genus for any of these taxa. Most require microscopic examination and many require dissection and/or slide mounting (especially chironomids) for genus/species id.

Merritt et al. (2018) can get you to genus for most taxa in North America, but it can be unwieldy and still requires a lot of time and effort to maybe get an id for someone not trained. There are few comprehensive resources for the taxa you list (see Dragonfly Nymphs of North America). While there are many taxon- and region-specific works that can be used for ids, often they are so scattered it is not easy to recommend a single source for one location. For a lot of taxa it may require combining many different sources from the primary literature or it may not be possible to id to species if differences among immature stages are not known.

I would advise against using since it is just a very superficial overview and excludes most genera.


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