Stream entomology suggestions

Hello everybody,

I’m a water quality monitor for Oklahoma’s Blue Thumb project. It’s a great program that uses volunteers to collect data and assess stream health each month. As such, I spend a great deal of time at a local stream testing the water and sampling macroinvertebrates. I’ve created an inaturalist project that I’m adding to every month. I’ve made a lot of macroinvertebrate and plant observations in it, and would like to use the project for educational purposes in the future. I would also like to take my volunteer work a bit further, and branch out in my sampling methods, but I’m not sure how to go about it. I have no formal education in biology, and have not been very successful in finding good resources for amateurs. I’m here hoping that you all, with your wealth of knowledge, can give me some suggestions. Namely, does anybody have ideas for surveying aquatic/riparian macroinvertebrates in a small, suburban stream? I only have time to survey the site once or twice a month, so that may drastically limit my options, but it is what it is.

Thank you all in advance for your help!


For sampling methods, there are quite a few good internet resources.

And maybe this EPA Volunteer Stream Monitoring: A Methods Manual


The Insects and Arachnids of Canada Part 1 has a section (around p. 60) of Aquatic insect traps.
When I took my aquatic entomology course in the 1980’s, we got great results with a simple kitchen strainer. Stick it a little downstream, and use a foot to disturb the bottom. We just wiggled our booted feet into the substrate - anything in there is carried downstream into the strainer. Lift rocks and see what’s clinging to their underside. Scoop up a sieve full of mud, and wash it in the water until larger material is left. In fast water check the tops of submerged rocks for blackfly larvae or pupae. Pools and ponds may have mosquito larvae/pupae in them. Water beetles can be captured by swooping the sieve through the water above the surface. A simple kitchen sieve is a cheap and effective way of catching aquatics.
It may not be a great survey tool, but the traps in the pdf above are likely to be.
Merritt and Cummins An introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America is also a good resource both for sampling methods and for keys to Family level. I can’t find a pdf, but here are the book details -

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