June 30, 2020 2:30 PM   Subscribe is an interdisciplinary research and development effort to create an innovative resource for aquatic insect identification to support citizen science activities.

This National Science Foundation supported project brings together expertise in entomology, learning sciences, software engineering, water quality biomonitoring, and design. It includes incredibly high resolution images (ventral, dorsal, and lateral) of 150 different macroinvertebrates for training, education, and research purposes, accessible through an intuitive interface that helps you learn taxonomy.

Watch this video to learn more about the database and key.

Want to try your hand at macroinvertebrate identification? Take the practice quiz!
posted by hydropsyche (14 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
thank u for nightmares
posted by Going To Maine at 2:40 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]

This is awesome!

Is there a similar resource out there for terrestrial insect identification? I had a neighbor asking me about some bugs* she found on some plants in her garden the other day, and a quick look for online field guides didn't turn up much that would help someone like me who could work through an identification flow chart like this uses but who doesn't otherwise know enough insect taxonomy to even start guessing.

* I say "bugs," but I don't think they had piercing mouthparts so I doubt they were hemipterans.

(Not to be all "but what about the terrestrial insects?!", I just encounter them more in my daily life! Aquatic insects are clearly cooler. Except for larval mosquitoes, I know they're an important part of the food web and I respect that but seriously eff those guys.)
posted by biogeo at 2:48 PM on June 30

I forgot to say: Check out Hydropsyche. I have never looked this good on the internet before.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:03 PM on June 30 [6 favorites]

@biogeo, University Extension offices are usually a good source for insect identification, particularly pests, eg; I also found this, but I don't know how good it is.
posted by foonly at 3:06 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]

biogeo: I think iNaturalist is actually pretty good for many terrestrial invertebrates. People tend to get pretty good pictures, and there is a very active entomologist community on there. Unfortunately for us freshwater folks, almost all the images of aquatic insects on iNaturalist are their terrestrial adult forms.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:06 PM on June 30 [4 favorites]

I skipped straight to the quiz, and jeez, it's always ephemeroptera, isn't it?
posted by agentofselection at 3:20 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]

My 6 years old kid wants to be a marine biologist... It's super interesting.
posted by zhorakiev at 3:35 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]

I'm really glad that's still a thing 6-year-old kids want to be.
posted by biogeo at 3:39 PM on June 30 [2 favorites]

I clicked on the link. And then I seriously jumped. Then I got out as fast as I could. No disrespect to the OP, not at all. It's just me. :)
posted by Splunge at 6:14 PM on June 30

Disappointingly, this is eastern US only. (Really, I've never been able to tell the various bugs apart. But I'll always retain my amazement about how far the various macroinvertebrates will travel sideways underground into the floodplain from the stream.)
posted by Dip Flash at 8:57 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]

Hey haters: here’s a song for you. Pay attention, even my 3 yr old gets it!

Sweet post hydropsyche, very cool and useful. Love the photos but also the illustrations and the way vocabulary is used. I only know about half the anatomical terms but skimming through here I find I can actually infer the word meaning from the visual context and the basic anatomy I have picked up from hanging around real biologists. Also makes me want to get a better hand lens and maybe a clip-on macro for my phone :)
posted by SaltySalticid at 9:07 PM on June 30 [1 favorite]

If it helps you haters, very few of these things are bigger than an inch long. Aquatic macroinvertebrates are mostly quite small. Okay, except hellgrammites. It's pretty normal to have nightmares about hellgrammites.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:24 AM on July 1

Dip Flash: Yes, because Stroud Water Research Center in Pennsylvania is the lead on this, I'm not surprised it's Eastern focused. The order and family keys should still be helpful for training volunteers in the West, and as an anatomical resource, it should still be useful for keying Western genera.
posted by hydropsyche at 3:28 AM on July 1 [1 favorite]

This is awesome! Needs a flyfishing tag.
posted by HumanComplex at 5:19 AM on July 1

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