From Creepy to Cute: How Stream Assessment Changed my View on Insects

Date: November 2, 2017 Author: EcoSpark Categories: Latest

This blog was contributed by guest writer, Vinusha Vijayarajan. This stream study was possible with the support of General Motors of Canada


A few days ago, I went with EcoSpark to a small stream in Unionville called Bruce Creek, which I hadn’t known was even there, to do stream assessments with people from my school - Milliken Mills High School. I must say up front that bugs are not my thing and that bugs and water are really, really not my thing. In fact, I really did not want to participate at all. But o.k., I got on the bus and tried to think happy thoughts.


Milliken Mills High School students looking for benthos from their transect. 


When we arrived, some tasks that were assigned to us by the EcoSpark Team were to check the pH and clarity of the water, and to search for insects in the water. When they said we had to search for bugs and some of us had to get in the stream, I was a little scared because who knows what kinds of bugs and how big the fishes in the stream might be. Were these fears irrational? Suffice it to say that I was initially freaking out.


Crayfish from Bruce Creek, affectionately named Tiffany

Gradually calming myself using most of the mindfulness techniques I have developed through my life and some new ones that just came to me, I began to realize that searching for the insects wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be. And just then we found a crayfish! I was a little shocked when I saw the crayfish. Interestingly, they all turned out to be harmless and small, and some were even cute! In the end, when we counting how many bugs we had caught, I have to admit, it was a little fun trying to find them.


After counting the bugs we had, the members of EcoSpark explained that many insects are disappearing from streams due to pollution and other factors. It was surprising when they said that because I initially thought that most streams are recovering due to increased awareness of water pollution. I realized that just being aware of what is happening to the water is not going to be enough to really help.


Caddisfly larvae from Bruce Creek

The EcoSpark Team mentioned that the insects we were trying to find are called Benthic Macroinvertebrates (BMIs) and finding at least 100 BMIs would make this study scientifically valid. Lucky for us, we found 102 BMIs! The creek that we searched for bugs in was said to be reasonably healthy since we found BMIs such as stoneflies, which can only live in clean conditions, and we also found other BMIs such as earthworms and caddisflies, showing that the creek was not only clean but also diverse. 


As for me, I am glad I got over my fears and went along on the study. Reflecting a little now I can even see that this fear is part of the problem with our approach to nature. If you are afraid of it, you are less likely to appreciate it and protect it.


Vinusha and Joyce at Bruce Creek in Unionville during a stream studyMy name is Vinusha Vijayarajan and I am a Grade 12 student from Milliken Mills High School. I'm currently taking Writer's Craft 4U. I plan on studying law at York University. I am newly interested in the environment and this stream assessment with EcoSpark helped me learn more about the environment and myself.