Stonefly found during stream assessment at Climbers Run Nature Preserve, Pequea, PA

At GWA, we support access to clean water for all people, but clean water isn’t just about turning on the tap. Clean water begins at the water’s edge, caring for water at the source at the rivers and streams and the small headwaters that create the tributaries that become those rivers and streams. If we start there, protecting water at the source, we will will spend a lot less money on water treatment, a costly endeavor that grows more so every year.

Here’s GWA Board member, Tom McKeon with a one-minute ecology lesson on stream health. Be sure to access the power point where he explains it in greater detail. Read on, lifetime learners!

Water, Bugs, and Your Health!

Did you know that there are thousands of types of bugs, insects and critters living in our waterways? Now, before you get grossed out, you should know this is actually a good thing because certain kinds of bugs are indicative of a healthy stream. You may be surprised to learn that some flying insects start their lives in streams — or even water puddles after it rains — in their larvae and nymphal forms.

Mature dragonfly

For example, dragonfly nymphs live in streambeds and use jet propulsion to scoot around. They are ferocious predators, equipped with an extendable mouthpiece that quickly shoots out to eat unsuspecting victims. Even annoying mosquitos begin their life as eggs which hatch into larvae in small puddles. They only need a few days to go through their cycle and become the flying, buzzing (annoying) adults they are.

Benthic macroinvertebrates—Macros for short—are spineless (invertebrate) creatures that are found on the streambed (benthic) and are big enough for you to see with your naked eye (macro). Unlike fish, which are much more mobile, Macros stay put.

Happy stream creatures

Let’s learn more about these Macros by following along with the PDF, linked here. You’ll learn how to find Macros in your local stream, and how to reduce mosquitos in your neighborhood.  This power point is available in both English and Spanish.

I’ve also created a flyer to show you how to protect yourself and the community from mosquitos that spread different viruses such as West Nile and Zika. Mosquitos used to be a summertime worry, but with climate change and the overall tendency toward a warming planet, mosquitos seem to be a three-season issue these days. There is an English version and a Spanish version for your review.

I’d be interested to know if this materials are useful and if they have changed your mind about bugs in general. Drop a comment in the box and let me know.

Thanks for reading.

Tom McKeon is an environmental health professional, who enjoys teaching about the connection of water and health through hands-on activities. Using statistics, GIS, and epidemiological concepts to study place-based interventions, Tom works to improve community health and water quality through community education, biological sampling, chemical sampling, and designing restoration proposals.