The Caddis and The Mayfly

While doing some video of Caddis fly larva, years ago, I caught some good sequences of a Mayfly nymph hitching a ride on the back of a cased Caddis fly larva. The small Mayfly nymph was using the case of the Caddis as a protective fortress, to travel some new territory. They may have been long time buddies for all I know, but the Mayfly seemed to be quite comfortable hiding in the package of timber that the Caddis fly was carrying.

The Mayfly uses the larger bug as a mode of transportation, much like in older times, a person would catch a train or hitch a ride. It reminds me of that old Leonard Skinner song: Going to Catch a Freight Train! There must be a level of thought.

In part of the footage, there are a few other smaller Caddis fly larva that momentarily stop the progress of the big bug that is featured in the video. It seems the larger Caddis was being courteous of the two smaller travelers. Maybe they were its relatives? Watch out for them, see if you can spot the smaller cased Caddis. Check out the video below:

The casing that the Caddis fly larva built, was made of larger material than the Caddis that I sketched, above. However, these small lengths of twigs are just right for a Mayfly to find shelter in.

Interestingly enough, I have caught videoed other Mayflies doing the same thing as the one in the video presented. So aquatic bugs are smarter than you might think. Catching a free ride is probably normal for some types of Mayfly nymphs. The open terrain of a stream bed, with limited cover habitat, can be a dangerous journey for a Mayfly to cross.

The micro habitats where some of the many thousands of aquatic invertebrates live are incredible little worlds that need to be explored. After observing life in such a small scale, you learn to respect it even more. This helps fortify your realization of just how important water quality, quantity and habitat are, in our local trout streams. When you study aquatic invertebrates and in some cases you will do what are called “kick samples” of what is lurking on the bottom of a stream. However, there are alternative methods that you can use to determine the health of the invertebrate populations and the diversity of the same.

Using video and just plain viewing glass equipment, you can explore the micro world of aquatic insects, below the surface. Video is so important, for educating young people, you can just view the video on your computer, tablet or phone. Further to that, a television is a good way to view footage, but if the quality is poor, a smaller screen works just fine. I have conducted aquatic invertebrate sampling with classes from the local elementary school, Glenbow Elementary, and the kids are always fascinated at what lives below the surface of the creek. In recent years, the kids carry nets on their outdoor education trips, so they can sample small bugs in backwaters and shallows.

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