Biologists call the squiggly, little creepy-crawlies living in a stream “benthic macroinvertebrates.” And though they may be a mouthful to say, they’re fun to catch, and they offer clues about the health of a stream.
“Benthic” refers to creatures that live at the bottom of the stream. “Macro” means they’re big enough to see with the naked eye. And “invertebrate” describes animals that lack a backbone.
Always get an adult’s permission before wading into a stream.
If you love good fishing, clean water, or simply splashing around in a stream, join a Stream Team! As part of the team, you’ll pitch in to pick up litter, test water to make sure it’s clean, or help with many other fun activities to protect your local waterway. To learn more, wade over to mostreamteam.org.
Some macroinvertebrates are so sensitive to pollution that they live in only the cleanest of streams. Others can handle a little pollution, but not much. And some aren’t that sensitive to pollution and will survive in everything from pristine to filthy water.
If you catch lots of pollution-sensitive macroinvertebrates, your stream is probably healthy. But if all you find are critters that aren’t sensitive to pollution, your stream may need a clean-up.
Angie Daly Morfeld
Nichole LeClair Terrill