Mary Beth Writes

4/28/2022

This is a small announcement that could be a lot of fun for some of you.

For the past two years Len has been a volunteer Wisconsin stream monitor. Once per summer month Len and another guy (with whom he has become friends) check water quality and stream-bed life at a few local sites. Before they started, they received clear but uncomplicated training in order to understand what is being looked for and how the testing equipment works. And they received hip waders!

Len always comes home smelling wonderfully like a pond. They collect some containers of water on which they perform tests to measure various qualities of the water. They dig into the stream bed to bring up mud, drain it, and then admire and notate what critters they find. This includes crayfish and Mayfly larva and itty-bitty freshwater clams.

Also, they always find Hellgrammites which are exceedingly homely but then there is this:  It is possible that Hellgrammite mandibles have been selected as secondary sex characteristics used by females to evaluate males during courtship. Males cannot use these mandibles to bite because they are too long. Males of many Hellgrammite species will also produce "nuptial gifts" in the form of packages of nutrient-rich spermatophores that are eaten by the female partner after mating. This has been shown to be correlated to mandible size; in species where the males have large mandibles the "nuptial gift" is small or absent, while it is large in species where males lack the exaggerated mandibles. 

If you are not chuckling I have failed. As most people seeking the love of a male of their species already know, pretty often less “gifted” guys try harder.

Also; If you have not danced yet today, I suggest you put this on and dance for the 3 minutes it lasts. Some people dance with wolves, we can dance with Hellgrammites. https://youtu.be/jmkgcyLT7ng If

Last year volunteers attended a lecture on dragonflies and damselflies. This year there will be a talk on fresh water mussels in the Mukwonago River. Len says I can come with him as a special guest and I will do this. (I didn’t say nerd, you did.)

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a stream monitor, here is their very cool website. Throughout Wisconsin, there are hundreds of volunteers.

Water Action Volunteers Preserving and protecting Wisconsin’s streams - Water Action Volunteers

They are associated with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and also with UW-Madison Extension.

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Comments

I did chuckle! Also noted, beauty is in the eye of the beholder” ha

That was quite interesting! I don’t plan to take it on, but it was interesting to see the life cycle of an insect that we rarely see. I loved the sexual attraction tips.
Mary Beth's picture

My kids, as young adults, planned a weekend getaway for themselves up north at a hunter's resort. About midnight one of them turned on the light in their bathroom and discovered a 7-8" Hellgrammite having a quiet moment in the middle of the floor. At which point the sisters called around until they found a chain motel room and everyone went there for the rest of the night.

That’s pretty funny. You have now educated them and I’m sure Lilly will read your column to Grace.

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