Exploring the Aquatic World at Sylvan Solace

Our third annual Aquatic Invertebrate Identification Workshop featured a location change this year. After two years at the Hall’s Lake Natural Area, we moved to the Sylvan Solace Preserve for an opportunity to look for insects in the clear, moving waters of the Chippewa River. We expected to discover different insects than what we had seen in the vernal pond environment at Hall’s Lake. This year’s finds included many larval forms, among them caddisflies, stoneflies, mayflies, and dragonflies. We found gilled snails, pouch snails, fingernail clams, several mussel species, crayfish, scuds, fishing spiders, whirligig beetles, water striders and water boatmen.

This was about more than simply finding things. Our leader, Mike LeValley, Environmental Educator at the Isabella Conservation District, handed out key sheets so that participants could learn how to correctly identify their finds and where they fit in the taxa. He even demonstrated an exercise to determine the relative health of the river by the presence or absence of certain animals. (The exercise found this stretch of the Chippewa River to be in very good health).

Here are just a few of the pictures from this exciting activity. We hope you will plan to bring children or grandchildren next year. It’s a tremendous chance to experience nature first hand and learn interesting information in a family-friendly environment.