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Insects awake!

On Sunday I was hanging out in the back yard with my dad when this insect flew at me (rather lazily). I snatched it out of the air and took this picture. I told my dad that I thought it was a caddisfly.

Well, I was wrong. This is a winter stonefly, an insect in the family Taeniopterygidae. What I told my dad about the insect's life cycle had a lot of truth to it, as these insects live somewhat similar lives to caddisflies: They hatch as larvae in the water, where they eat detritus and/or plant matter, they emerge from the water as flying non-eating adults which live a very short time simply to mate and then die. The larva stage looks very different, and the winter stonefly larva makes no protective case. The adults differ from caddisflies by rather subtle differences in wing shape, which is easy to miss (but I probably won't miss it again, since I exposed myself to another embarrassing correction on bugguide.net).

Winter stoneflies are indicator species that live only in well-oxygenated running water. The presence of these insects suggests that nearby waterways are relatively unpolluted. This one may have hatched out of Stony Brook itself, or one of the smaller streams around Turtle Pond.

Stony Brook Timeline

While researching earlier Urban Nature Walks involving the Muddy River, I discovered that Olmsted (the 19th century landscape architect that transformed urban America) was given the task of dealing with Stony Brook, as well as the Muddy. Both are tributaries of the Charles, but while the Muddy is the centerpiece of a major park, the Riverway, that I live next to and visit every day, I realized that I knew nothing about Stony Brook. I knew it was the name of a train stop in Jamaica Plain, but the brook itself didn't even seem to appear on maps. Then we decided to do an Urban Nature Walk at the Stony Brook Reservation, the location of the headwaters of Stony Brook, a Metropolitan Reservation (as opposed to Municipal Park) that straddles the neighborhoods of Roslindale and Hyde Park in Boston. I did some research before our walk, and turned up some interesting history. Read more...Collapse )

My pictures of the Stony Brook Reservation can be seen here, while cottonmanifesto's pictures are here and here.


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