Monday, February 10, 2014

Exploring new water: the Patricia Byrom Park

A few years ago I catalogued insects in the small streams that flow through what would become the "Patricia Ann Byrom Forest Preserve Park," in northwestern Albemarle county.  My part in a "bio blitz" that preceded trail construction.  These are streams I would like to explore, so today I returned.  I had no intention of getting into the water -- it was 28ยบ and cloudy -- but once I was there I couldn't resist.

The stream in this photo is at the bottom part of the park -- it's as far as I went.  But, I know from the work I did before that there are smaller, even better streams, once you start climbing the trails.  Some other day.  Here are some of the insects I found today.  My photos are not the best: the sun never came out.

1. Ameletid mayfly, Ameletus cryptostimulus.

This species is fairly uncommon: I've only seen it in very small mountain streams.  North Carolina does not give it a tolerance value.

2. Large winter stonefly, Taenionema atlanticum.  Saw a lot of them: this is the habitat where they thrive.

3. Uenoids.  I picked up five or six cases which were all very small.  My bet was Neophylax aniqua -- and I was right in all but one case.  There was one that appears to be N. concinnus.

N. aniqua

Note the tubercle on its head.

Love the case.  As with so many aniquas I see, this one made a case that is tapered with fairly large pebbles placed at the top.  Also note that the pronotum is dark brown, just like the head.

N. concinnus (?)

The case differs from that of aniqua, and the pronotum is orangish brown.  If you look closely you can see the tubercle on this one as well.  I thought it would be N. mitchelli -- but no clavate ventral gills on abdominal segment 1.  The muscle scars on the head are very clear in this photo: I couldn't get a clear shot of the tubercle with my microscope.

3. A beautiful freeliving caddisfly larva (Rhyacophilid), Rhyacophila nigrita.  Tolerance value, 0.0.

Of the visible features that help us with species ID, we can see three in this photo.

1) The anterior of the pronotum is dark;  2) the fore femora are very broad; and 3) the second segment of the maxillary palpus is twice as long as the first.  (Actually, you can only verify that if you look at the base of the palpus -- microscope view.)

I saw other things -- Perlodid stoneflies, Diploperla duplicata, and common stoneflies, Eccoptura xanthenses.   But with numb fingers and toes, I decided to call it a day.  Next time, I'll be climbing up to those smaller streams.  Can't wait to see what is there!


  1. Amazing photos of the Ameletus! What a beauty!
    If you want to collect more N. concinnus to confirm your ID, you might be able to find the Neophylax population that is dominated by N. concinnus a couple hundred metres downstream from where you collected these.

    1. Terrific! I'll be sure to check that out -- as soon as the snow melts!