Macros, Macros and More Macros, Oh My!

On Thursday, October 28th, Candie Wilderman (Founder & Science Advisor), Stephanie Letourneau (Community Science Specialist), Phoebe Galione (Outreach Manager), Jinnie Monismith (Science Advisor), Cat Dickman ‘22, Darcy Bromley ‘22, Michelle Hom ‘24, and Michelle Cao ‘25, presented together in a Macroinvertebrate Webinar open to all Stream Team members. This event gave volunteers, from counties all across Pennsylvania, an introduction to the significance of macroinvertebrates as biological indicators, tips on how to identify commonly found macroinvertebrate orders, and the tools they could take advantage of in preparation for collection in the spring of 2022.

We (Michelle Hom ‘24 and Michelle Cao ‘25) were especially excited as it was our first time presenting at an ALLARM event. We identified two closely related macro groups, Mayflies (Ephemeroptera) and Stoneflies (Plecoptera), and provided tips on how to tell the two apart. For example, Stoneflies have two tarsal claws, or what appear as little feet at the end of their legs, while Mayflies only have one! We enjoyed learning unique facts about each macro order, like stoneflies doing “pushups” to increase oxygen intake and jewelry being made out of caddisfly cases, as described by Darcy Bromley ‘22.

We thought the overall event was successful and even enjoyed the preparation process as it was very exciting to learn how to distinguish different orders of macros. Specifically, we looked at macros that had been preserved in resin by a previous ALLARMie under a microscope! We also had a run-through of the webinar with the other ALLARM members, and although we were nervous at first about how many macros there were to cover, with a few adjustments it ran smoothly! It was great to see Stream Team volunteers from different counties interacting with each other over Zoom and getting excited in the chat when they learned a new fact about a macro. We are ultimately looking forward to the spring of 2022 when we can hopefully meet the volunteers in person to start macroinvertebrate collection!