Wild Ohio - Aquatic Bugs - Ponds, Lakes, Wetlands and Streams

July 5, 2014


Wild Ohio Presents



aquatic bugs-pond and lake


 Beneath the surface of an Ohio stream, lake, or pond, you will be witness to a vibrant community of plants and animals, including aquatic "bugs." Dive in to the not so deep unknown for a closer look at this world in Part One of this series featuring zooplankton, worms, crayfish and other creepy-crawly critters. 

Part 1   Pond and Lake Bugs          http://vimeo.com/97450017
Part 2   Pond and Lake Bugs           http://vimeo.com/99173218
Part 3   Wetland Bugs                       http://vimeo.com/102144713

Part 4    Stream Bugs                          http://vimeo.com/111415986                 

Wetlands and vernal pools are shallow sometimes temporary bodies of standing water, creating opportunities for critters adapted to these unique aquatic challenges. Fish are usually absent from these areas and in the case vernal pools, so are larger frogs (bullfrogs and green frogs). This void of large predators allows other amphibians and insects to rule the roost. Water boatmen, backswimmers and giant waterbugs feed on smaller insects like caddisflies and mosquitos as well as larval frogs and salamanders. Dragonflies may be present, but some wetlands dry up before dragonfly larva mature, freeing their inhabitants from the danger of these predators. Snails are common here, feeding on algae growing upon leaf litter (detritus) and emergent plants like cattails and reeds. Worms and leeches may be found as well as midge larva. The blood midge larva is adapted to the low oxygen environment present in wetlands. The name is ominous, and the color of this tiny worm-looking critter is blood red, not because of what it eats, rather, where it lives. Just as our blood is red from hemoglobin used to hold onto oxygen, the blood midge has concentrated amounts of a similar substance to cling to scarce amounts of oxygen at the bottom of a wetland. Water beetles, water boatmen and backswimmers employ a different tactic, grabbing air from the surface and travelling with it underwater like a scuba tank. Water scorpions use a snorkel located on their backside to breathe air while continuing to hunt in a head-down position. Wetlands may not have fish or big frogs, but they team with an amazing amount of insects and other bugs native to our Wild Ohio!


Streams are flowing bodies of water that display a mind-boggling amount of variation of depth, habitat, flow, human impact, plant communities and animals. There are many types of animals that depend on streams for life; mammals (mink, otter, beaver), amphibians (two-lined salamanders, frogs), reptiles (painted turtles, queen snakes), fish (darters, smallmouth bass) and a whole bunch of bugs.
As with the other animals, there are many kinds of bugs that call a stream home; this diversity is supported by the different types of habitat in a stream. Hellgrammites, stoneflies and some mayflies have flattened bodies; this allows them to not be swept downstream and to squeeze between rocks in search of food. Chunky bugs like cranefly larva and dragonflies are found in areas of the stream with lesser flow. Many types of stream bugs require high water quality and good habitat for survival, including plenty of oxygen (lots of these insects have their gills on the outside of their body), areas between and under rocks to hide as well as places to lay eggs. Aquatic bugs are one of the foundations for a stream’s food web as sunlight becomes algae and plants that are eaten by bugs. When bugs become food, their energy is transferred to the fish and frogs and snakes; eventually they may become part of an eagle, bear or human…and through excretion or decomposition of the top predators that energy is cycled back to algae and bugs. This complex interaction is happening all around us, creating unique and amazing animals and plants that you can find by exploring your Wild Ohio!