Seen here are a few examples of the insects that live in and around the Hatchie River. Some are beautiful and others bizarre, but all have important roles in the ecosystem.
The caddisfly larva spends one year or more in a cylindrical silk case. During this time, it attaches itself to small natural materials in order to strengthen its exterior, such as rocks or plant stems. This particular larva has used tiny multicolored pebbles. Caddisflies are very sensitive to pollution, which can be a clue to the overall purity of the water they are found in.
This adult dragonfly displays its four clear oval wings with their delicate dark veins. Many dragonflies live in a particular kind of habitat, and they are suffering from habitat loss around the world. Dragonflies can fly up to 34 miles per hour! This makes them efficient predators, catching up to 95% of the insects they pursue.
These female dobsonflies have small jaws called “mandibles,” and a pair of brown mottled wings folded back in a long upside-down heart shape. They live about a week as adults but spent up to 3 years as slowly growing larvae. Dobsonfly larvae live in shallow, fast-flowing streams where they can catch and eat soft-bodied insects. The consumption of these insects helps to maintain a balanced aquatic ecosystem.
The rattailed maggot is the larva of the drone fly you can see just above it. Its long rat-tail is actually a siphon, a long tube that works like a snorkel so the larva can breathe. Unlike many other insects here, rattailed maggots live in dirty water where they have plenty of bacteria and rotting material to eat. The adult drone flies switch to feeding on pollen and nectar and are important pollinators.
The giant water bug is well named and are some of the largest beetles in the world. This dark brown beetle has a spine on the back end of its oval body, a siphon for breathing like the rattailed maggot. They capture prey with their large front legs and inject it with a toxin from their beak before eating it. Giant water bugs are important predators that stop smaller insects from becoming overpopulated.