Friday, 2 September 2016

Minibeasts on the prowl in Lockyer Creek

Aquatic minibeasts fascinate me, ever since a wonderful book opened my eyes to their diversity and significance.

On Wednesday, I found a couple of rather strange minibeasts in Lockyer Creek, at a little rest area next to the Warrego Highway near Helidon.

The first was a creature with predatory-looking jaws and long tail projections that made me wonder if it was a type of stonefly (Plectoptera order) larva.

Beetle larva, Helidon.

Consulting my guidebooks later, however, revealed it to be the larva of a predatory diving beetle (Dytiscidae family).

This identification makes sense, as the creek is partially contaminated by highway and agriculture run-off, and stoneflies have a reputation for living in only the most pristine of freshwaters, whereas the beetles can handle pollution.

Another small predator I found gave me quite a surprise when I found it in my net, as at first glance it resembled a tick.

In the bucket, it showed itself to be quite an adept swimmer, though it’s roly-poly ‘dodgem car’ style of locomotion was certainly unique.

Water mite, Helidon.

I was not far off in my tick assessment, because it turns out this creature is indeed a type of arachnid, known as a water mite (Hydrachnidae family).

It has piercing mouthparts that inject digestive enzymes into its prey, which is then slurped-up more-so than eaten.

Other interesting finds of the day were water-skating flies (Ephydridae family), a waterboatman (Micronecta species) and two freshwater snail (Gastropoda order) species.

3 comments:

  1. Interesting post! I'll have to take a closer look within my local creeks in the future. Unfortunately, my most reliable one is being filled in for housing! I'll have to look a little further!

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    1. Thanks Ollie, nature is a limitless source of mystery and intrigue! Shame about your local creek, the mind boggles at the disrespect shown to such vital ecosystems.

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    2. Couldn't agree more! Thers's not much that I can do to stop it, but there are possibly going to be conservation parks nearby!

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