Friday, December 28, 2012

Plenty of insects -- but not enough sun for good photos

Well, I mean, that's not a bad photo -- but all in all it was a frustrating day.

A lot of our streams are high and off color since we had some decent rainfall on Wednesday.  So, I went back to my small streams in Sugar Hollow which, coming down steeply from high up in the mountains, are running nice and clear.  And I found lots of insects: Uenoid caddis case-makers; flatheaded mayflies -- Epeorus pleuralis, Maccaffertium pudicum, and Maccaffertium merririvulanum; Giant stoneflies, all sorts of sizes; Green stoneflies; large winter stoneflies -- Taenionema atlanticum, the only species I see in this stream; and, as we see in the photo above, small winter stoneflies -- what I think is Allocapnia pygmaea.  But the sun disappeared -- which means the photography suffers.

But...I did get some shots that are worth showing.

1. More photos of that beautiful small winter stonefly which is almost mature: note the rich colors and patterns and the darkening wing pads.

2. One of the many T. atlanticum large winter stoneflies I saw.

3. A black fly larva -- I've not yet said anything, but I've been seeing a lot of them this year.  In the second photo you can actually see the eyes.

4. And the largest Epeorus pleuralis flatheaded mayfly I've seen so far this year.

But wait a minute -- what's that little nymph swimming next to it in the tray?  Any guesses?  Perhaps a bigger photo would help.

That is one small mayfly, and to help us with the ID,  let me point out four things: 1) the antennae are short, and they form a "Y" at the front of the head; 2) the gills are pointing straight up and down; 3) the body is "cigar" shaped; and 4) the tails/cerci are banded (though one of the three has broken off).  You might also note the shape of the eyes.

Here's one from February, 2011, one that's a little bit bigger, one on which those features show up a lot better.

And here's one from March of last year that I found in the same stream that I went to today.

Ameletidae, genus Ameletus.  I was amazed that I was able to see that tiny nymph flipping around on a leaf -- even more amazed that I got a respectable photo.  Size: 3 mm.   This is an excellent stream for Ameletids -- they live in cool, small mountain streams -- and I always see them here in the winter.  But, I've never seen such a small one before.  Fun!

Below: a decent photo of one of the M. pudicum flatheads that I found.

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