Sunday, September 14, 2014

Hitchin' a ride: fun photos from the past

I'll be off to the Rapidan River on Tuesday, but every so often I check through my photos to see what I'm most likely to see at a certain time of year.  And here was this very cool photo of a small minnow mayfly, Acentrella nadineae, that I found last year at the Rapidan on 9/16.   It decided to ride out its time in my petri dish on the back of the case of this humpless case-maker, Brachycentrus appalachia.

When I returned to the Rapidan in October (10/15/13), this move was repeated by a very young spiny crawler mayfly nymph, Ephemerella subvaria.

When I have more than one insect in my petri dish when I take photos, it isn't uncommon for a small insect -- especially a mayfly nymph -- to cling  to something else, especially to the case of a case-maker caddis.  It's good to remember that this happens in real life in the streams as well.  Why waste energy swimming or crawling about on your own when there's a free ride to be had?

So I decided to look through my files to see if there were other times in the past when this has resulted in my getting some pretty nice photos.  Here we go.  I'll use a chronological order.

1. A "baby" Giant stonefly clings to the tail of a more mature nymph.  Both nymphs are Pteronarcys proteus.  6/1/11.

2. A very small stonefly, Isogenoides hansoni,  "peeks" inside the case of a humpless case-maker.

3. A small minnow mayfly, Acentrella turbida, rides the back of a Giant stonefly.  10/9/11.

4.  Mayfly nymphs and caddisfly larvae also enjoy riding atop the cases of other caddis case-makers.
Here's an Ameletid mayfly nymph (Ameletus lineatus) and a Lepidostomatid caddis riding on the three-sided leaf case of a Pycnopsyche gentilis (Northern case-maker).  2/29/12.

5.  A small minnow mayfly, Baetis intercalaris, holding on to the tail end of a humpless case-maker case.  9/22/12.

6.  Not really a case of "hitching a ride," but a nice photo of two caddisfly case-makers lying side-by-side in my dish: humpless case-maker, Brachycentrus appalachia, and a "little mountain case-maker," Apatania incerta.  Rapidan River, 1/4/13.

7.  And I totally missed my first sighting of an Isoperala orata Perlodid stonefly nymph.  It was clinging to the case of a Northern case-maker, Pycnopsyche scabripennis.  Rapidan River, 5/13/13.

8.  Another mayfly holding on to the pebble case of a Pycnopsyche gentilis (Northern case-make): this time a small spiny crawler.  4/20/14.

9. And quite recently -- 8/15/14 -- at the Rapidan River, I found this midge larva, inside of a case, attached to another Pycnopsyche scabripennis Northern case-maker larva.  8/15/14.

10.  One more.  I don't have the date, but it was sometime early this year.  A Uenoid caddisfly larva in its little case made of pebbles and sand, crawling around on a Pycnopsyche gentilis Northern case-maker in a case that's part leaves and part pebbles.

More "oddities" to come in future entries -- but first, let's see what we can find in that clean mountain stream.

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