Closeup insects from the Yakima River
Heptagenia pulla (Golden Dun) Mayfly Nymph
View 11 PicturesThis specimen is interesting because Heptagenia pulla has not been reported from Washington or neighboring states (Saskatchewan is the closest), yet the distinctive key characteristics are clear.
It keys to the genus Heptagenia because the tarsal claw (Tarsal claw: The claws at the tip of the tarsus, on an insect's "foot.") has a single basal (Basal: close to the base; root or beginning) tooth, and the gills on segment 7 have fibrils.
For the species key:
1. The left mandible (Mandible: The paired jaws of an insect which are used for grabbing food, located immediately behind the labrum.) is planate (fairly straight-edged) whereas the right mandible (Mandible: The paired jaws of an insect which are used for grabbing food, located immediately behind the labrum.) is angulate (has one sharp turn on the edge).
2. The labrum (Labrum: The platelike structure forming the roof of the mouth of insects; the upper lip.) is much wider than long.
3. There's a thin light-colored streak lateral (Lateral: To the side.) to the eye on the head.
Female Isoperla fusca (Yellow Sally) Stonefly Adult
View 13 PicturesThe family ID on this one was a little bit tricky. Just going by the size, shape, and color, it looks like Chloroperlidae. However, the second anal vein of the forewing is does not appear to be forked, and the apical (Apical: Close to the apex; tip or end.) maxillary palpal segment is close to the length of the penultimate segment, both of which rule out that family. The position of the cubitoanal crossvein (Crossvein: Short cross-wise veins in an insect wing which connect the long longitudinal (length-wise) veins.) relative to the anal cell in the forewing -- touching it in this case -- indicates Perlidae (and it really doesn't have the "look" of Perlidae at all), but other characteristics, such as the metathorastic sternacostal sutures and lack of gill remnants, point to Perlodidae. That's the right answer. Moving on to Perlodidae, the key characteristics in Merritt & Cummins lead straightforwarly to Isoperla, and the species key in Jewett 1959 (The Stoneflies of the Pacific Northwest) leads to Isoperla fusca.
There is one caveat: That source does suggest a May-July emergence, whereas this one was collected in mid-September.
Baetis tricaudatus (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Nymph
View 20 PicturesA nymph of the same species as this one emerged into a dun in my studio so I got photos of both stages.
NOTE: I missed an important key characteristic the first time I tried to identify this one (robust setae (Seta: Little hairs on insects.) on the abdominal sternites (Sternite: The bottom (ventral) part of a single segment on an insect's abdomen.), which were harder to see than I expected but are clearly present), so I went on a bit of a wild goose chase and landed at a dead end. After spotting that characteristic, this one keys more straightforwardly to either Baetis tricaudatus or the Baetis piscatoris complex. It doesn't seem to be a perfect fit for either one in the key, but I'm going with tricaudatus based on range and abundance. It's not certain.
However, I'm leaving the flawed analysis below with this disclaimer, because some aspects of how I approached that dead end might be informative in the future.
----Incorrect analysis below----
After spending a lot of time with this one under my shiny new microscope, I'm still not quite sure what it is. I botched my attempt to expose the mouth parts that might make the ID more definitive. Based on the key in Webb et al 2018's "Baetis Larvae of North America," here's my reasoning at each key couplet.
Couplet 1. The pronotum (Pronotum: The top of the insect prothorax.) lacks dark, submedian U-shaped markings. Also, if I were to follow through to couplet 2, there seem to be characteristics that rule out each of the options: the intercalaris complex is ruled out by the abdominal markings, and the caudal (Caudal: Toward the posterior tip of the body.) filaments have neither a dark median band (ruling out the flavistriga complex) nor uniform pale coloration (ruling out Baetis notos). This sends me with decent confidence to couplet 4.
Couplet 4. I cannot find robust setae (Seta: Little hairs on insects.) in my microscope on the scapes, pedicels, paraprocts, or sterna. I also do not see a pair of dark, bilobed markings on the pronotum (Pronotum: The top of the insect prothorax.). Unless I overlooked these characteristics, proceed to couplet 9.
Couplet 9. Abdominal tergum (Tergum: the dorsal part of an abdominal segment or segments (terga). Also used to describe the entire abdominal dorsum or the thoracic dorsal segments of Odonata.) 5 is a bit paler than adjacent terga (Tergum: the dorsal part of an abdominal segment or segments (terga). Also used to describe the entire abdominal dorsum or the thoracic dorsal segments of Odonata.), but "distinctly paler"? The figure for Baetis alius in the paper, as well as a very nice picture posted by Millcreek in the forum here, shows that Baetis alius would have darker tergites (Tergite: The top (dorsal) part of a single segment on an insect's abdomen when it consists of a single chitinous plate (sclerite), or an individual sclerite if the segment has more than one.) surrounding #5. So proceed to couplet 11.
Couplet 11. The length of the gills is obviously less than 2X their width. This leads to the Baetis vernus complex, which could include that species or Baetis brunneicolor. This key doesn't say how to tell those species apart.
Switching over to Burien et al 2018 as the source, the characteristics used to distinguish vernus from brunneicolor seem to rule out either one. Brunneicolor should have more uniformly brown abdominal tergites (Tergite: The top (dorsal) part of a single segment on an insect's abdomen when it consists of a single chitinous plate (sclerite), or an individual sclerite if the segment has more than one.), whereas vernus should have a lack of visible tracheation in most of the gills.
The fore femur (Femur: The main segment of an insect's leg close to the body, in between the tibia and the trochanter.) length is about 3.8x its width.
Also worth noting: In the genus ID, I thought I could see the villipore in my microscope, but I'm not sure. If I back out of Baetis altogether and assume there's no villipore, I end up at Fallceon, but this specimen doesn't seem to have the frontal keel on the head that's supposed to be present on Fallceon quilleri. So that seems like a dead end as well.
Female Baetis tricaudatus (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Nymph
View 13 PicturesThese nymphs were highly abundant in my early April kick net samples from the Yakima Canyon, and one of them emerged into a dun, which I photographed immediately. Similar-looking nymphs but with distinctly brighter color patterns were also abundant. I just photographed one. After extensive views under the microscope, it's clear the bright ones are males and the dull ones are females of the same species.
The most likely guess at the species is Baetis tricaudatus, which may be a complex of related species that haven't all been sorted out yet. It isn't a perfect fit to every key characteristic (and I never seem to find a Baetis that matches the expected pronotum (Pronotum: The top of the insect prothorax.) color patterns, but that seems to be the closest.
The microscope images here were taken with different specimens from the main photos (so I could dissect them while preserving that one intact), but clearly the same species.
Helicopsyche borealis (Speckled Peter) Caddisfly Pupa
View 13 PicturesI'm calling this one very tentatively Helicopsyche borealis, with some big caveats that I might be wrong.
It seems to key fairly easily to Helicopsychidae, except at the last couplet in Merritt & Cummins (5th ed) it's supposed to have “anal processes short and straight, each with several mesal (Mesal: Toward the middle.) setae (Seta: Little hairs on insects.) and 2 long apical (Apical: Close to the apex; tip or end.) setae (Seta: Little hairs on insects.),” whereas this one has VERY short, straight processes with 3 long apical (Apical: Close to the apex; tip or end.) setae (Seta: Little hairs on insects.) and no mesal (Mesal: Toward the middle.) ones.
Additionally, the only species of Helicopsychidae documented in this region is Helicopsyche borealis, which is supposed to emerge much later in the summer.
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