Friday, April 27, 2007

BUG of the MONTH- Part 1

This is the first installment of many concerning the aquatic insect we imitate when we are tying flies. Every month I will post information on different aspects of aquatic insects. Ever since I began fly fishing, Entomology has been a side hobby for me. I hope this information gives you additional insight and allows you to become a more informed tyer and fly fisher.

Aquatic Insects - An Introduction

Insects, aquatic and terrestrial (living on land or air, as opposed to aquatic; also pertaining to land) are fascinating critters. There are more species of insects on earth than all other animals combined. Next time you are in a stream, river or creek, take a few moments to turn over a few rocks or logs before you start to fish. Study the nymphs and bugs that crawl around. You can even grab a few, throw them in a jar for further study. I keep a few small glass vials in my fly vest. The preserving method i found that works best is pre-filling the vials with ethyl alcohol a a drop of glycerine. Ethyl alcohol is available at all drug stores. You can also label the vial with the date, body or water name and approximate location. I will typically look at the collected specimen and compare it's size to the fly I will be fishing. I also look at it's color and overall shape. Adult stage flying insects can also be retained for samples. The method I use is a small plastic jar that contains a cotton ball that has been soaked with nail polish remover. Once dispatched, they can be placed in vials with alcohol for preservation. Be careful when handling the winged insect, their wings can easily break and crumble.

Here is a fun fact about the stonefly. They contain more protein and less cholesterol than red meat! So when you desire a healthy snack on the stream, you might want to consider munching down one of these beauties.

Let,s now look at the classification of insects and the animal kingdom. Living things are classified into taxonomic ( any named group of organisms) groups based on shared characteristics. The largest group is the kingdom. Biologists recognize 5 kingdoms:
1. Bacteria
2. Protozoans
3. Fungi
4. Plants
5. Animals

All organisms can be placed in one of the 5 groups depending on how many cell types they have and by the complexity of those cells. All insects are in the animal kingdom. Once an organism is placed in it's kingdom and can be further sub classified based on characteristics. The classification goes from general to specific as illustrated in the following:

Kingdom, Phylum,Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species.

The Hexagenia Limbata would be classified as follows:

Kingdom: Animal
Phylum: Arthropoda (Those animals with jointed legs and exoskeleton)
Class: Insecta ( those animals with six legs)
Order: Ephemeroptera [efemeroptera] (mayflies)
Family: Ephemeridae ( burrowing mayfly who share the same characteristic) There are approximately 150 species around the world except for Australia and Oceania. This family contains large mayflies (up to 35mm) with either 2 or 3 tails. The nymphs are largely carnivorous and collect their food through predation or scavenging. All Family names end in "idae".
Genus: Hexagenia (Note: Genus names are capitalized and in italics).
Species: Limbata (Note: Species names are capitalized and in italics).

That is all for now. Stay tuned for next months installment!
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