Feature Creatures

Can you guess the water-related organisms being described below?

Feature Creature #36

I am a slow, chubby creature that can grow to more than seven inches. When I am young, I spend my time in clean streams, where I use my gills to breathe for up to four years. Finally, I turn bright red
with black spots, and crawl up into the hills during the warm months. In the hills I use my projecting tongue to prey on worms, insects, and sometimes other small salamanders. When the cold rains fall in autumn, I return back to the cold springs where I grew up, and can lay up to 100 eggs. Keep a watch for me, because I am one of the most colorful creatures around and need pristine habitats to survive.

Answer #36

ANSWER: Northern Red Salamander (Pseudotriton ruber)

Feature Creature #35

I am a fish who rarely grows larger than 3-4” long. In different environments I have the ability blend in
extremely well due to my brown splotchy coloring. Unlike most fish, I lack a swim bladder to help me
float in the water; therefore I spend my days at the bottom of the stream eating mostly small macroinvertebrates and fish smaller than myself. I am rather sensitive to changes in temperature of the streams that I live in, so I am often found in streams also inhabited by cold-water fish. After laying eggs the males protect them in cavities under rocks until they hatch. Can you guess what I am?

Answer #35

ANSWER: Mottled Sculpin (Cottus bairdii)

Feature Creature #34

I am a salamander that is brownish gray I have bright red gills but since I only venture from my home at night you might not have seen me before. Yummy crayfish, worms and fish are a big part of my diet. My name comes from the squeaky bark I sometimes can make. Fisherman used to mistaken me for being poisonous because I am extremely slimy. I’m usually around a foot long, which means I’m among the largest of salamanders! I’m also different in that I guard my eggs until they are hatched. Do you know who I am?

Answer #34

ANSWER: Mudpuppy (Necturus maculosus)

Feature Creature #33

I am a large gray bird, that you may see lurking around your creek. I have a white crown on my head and my neck is usually in an “S” curve. My bill is long and yellow and I have a black stripe above my yellow eye. My very long slender legs make me about 3 feet tall and the feathers on my back are usually shaggy. The colors of my feathers make me hard to see most of the time, but wait until I fly! My wingspan of almost 6 feet is hard to miss and you may see me zooming by at about 20 miles per hour. When it comes to eating, I like to shallow my dinner whole, whether it is a small fish, frogs, or even rodents and small birds! Do you know who I am?

Answer #33

ANSWER: Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

Feature Creature #32

I am a tiny creature with a nasty bite. I can grow to be about an inch long and I have short, sharp pinchers. My color is dark brown with golden highlights. I can live in ponds, pools, and in sidewaters of streams. I am a good diver and flier. My middle and hindlegs have fringes of long hairs that help me swim. I can stay under water for several minutes because I can carry my own air bubble in order to breath. When it comes to food, I can practically anything, such as small fish, tadpoles, and dragonfly nymphs. I will eat just about anything that comes my way, including my own young, so watch your fingers when I am in the water.

Answer #32

ANSWER: Predacious Diving Beetle (Dytiscidae)

Feature Creature #31

I’m mostly gray, with a grizzled effect due to long guard hairs that have a black band ending in a white tip. A white stripe from my nose leads between my eyes and back over my head, ending between my shoulders. My Lower legs and feet are black in color. I have five toes on each foot and four of the toes on my front feet have exceptionally long claws. I walk on my toes with a characteristic rolling gait. I’m mostly a nocturnal creature, but have been known to be active during daylight in quiet areas. I have an excellent sense of hearing and smell, which serves in locating food, which is usually rodents in underground dens. I have been known to plug the exit holes of my prey species before I tunnel underground to capture my prey. My long claws serve to loosen the soil and pass it 6 to 8 feet backwards. I live in an underground den with tunnels 6 to 8 feet deep and 20 to 30 feet long. My den also has several entrance holes. I do not hibernate like bears during winter, but I do sleep for extended periods of time in northern states. Especially during extended periods of cold weather and deep snow. My species is the most carnivorous out of all the other species of my kind. I dig out chipmunks, ground hogs, ground squirrels, mice and rabbits; I will also eat carrion and invertebrates. The condition of my claws are important. I sharpen my long claws by scratching them on trees or posts. I’m considered to be old at 12 years of age. Who am I?

Answer #31

ANSWER: Badger (Taxidea taxus)

Feature Creature #30

When I am born I will go as far as 75 miles between my first fall and spring. I am a nocturnal animal. Although my thumb is not opposable it is still used to open trashcans and lids. I am an omnivore. I will eat berries, eggs, insects and even some small animals. My claws and paws are strong enough to even open and eat oysters and clams. I can grow to be between 50cm and a 100 cm this is including my tail. I have a whitish gray coat with occasional yellowish black patches. My tail has black stripes on it. I also have long claws used for climbing trees and opening up mussels.
I have been thought of as washing all of my food. Thus I will sometimes submerge my food in water. The part that scientist figure out is if there is no water I will still pretend to put it in the water. I will usually live in hollow trees, but I have also been found in old coyote and beaver dens and many other places of cover. I have become somewhat of a pest in urban areas because I get into peoples garbage. This hurts me in the wild, because I become dependent on people for food. Both dogs and people occasionally hunt me. Who am I?

Answer #30

ANSWER: Raccoon (Procyon lotor)

Feature Creature #29

I am a very small creature, but I am easy to see. I begin life as an egg and when I hatch I swim around in small pools and ponds, until I am developed enough to walk around on land. Later in my life, I will return to these small pools and ponds to spend the rest of my life there. I am known as an insectivore because I eat mainly insects. Mmm mmm mmm! Crickets! You’re most likely to see me if you’re wandering through a forest with soft, moist soil – especially after a rain. Like I said, I’m easy to see – my bright red spots and neon orange skin point me out. Don’t worry though – predators leave me alone. The bright colors of my skin and spots acts as a warning to other creatures that I taste bad. If something tries to eat me, I emit a nasty tasting poison that will make predators sick. Eventually, my bright orange skin will turn an olive color and I will return to my pond. Do you know who I am?

Answer #29

ANSWER: Red Spotted Newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)

Feature Creature #28

I am a reptile. I can have a shell length of 45 cm and I can weigh up to 15 kg. I have a long neck and very muscular jaw and legs. I have a very long tail which also makes me look bigger. I’m very shy and will swim away from you in the water, but if you come up to me on land, I may lunge out and give you a painfully strong bite. I can eat many different plants and animals. I lay many eggs that will hatch in September or early October. Who am I?

Answer #28

ANSWER: Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)

Feature Creature #27

I live in most of Canada, Alaska, and most of the North Eastern United States, in damp deciduous (leaf bearing trees) woods. I am only a medium sized frog, normally growing to be 2.75 inches long. You can identify me when you see me because I am normally tan-brown (but I can even be dark brown or even olive green), with a dark brown mask that goes from my eyes to my eardrums. I eat small insects such as ants, crickets, beetles, spiders, slugs, moth larvae and worms. There are two facts about me that make me especially interesting. In the winter, unlike other frogs, I hibernate under the ground. This means that I actually freeze. I am only one of a very few number of animals that can do this. Then in the early spring, I thaw, and start looking for a mate. Also, I need a special place to mate and lay my eggs called a vernal pool. A vernal pool is a body of water, like a large puddle, that is in the middle of the woods. This pool is created by melting snow in the spring, and normally dries up by mid to late summer. Who am I?

Answer #27

ANSWER: Wood Frog (Rana sylvatica)

Feature Creature #26

I am the aquatic larval stage of a land animal. I have a short, oval body and a broad tail, which helps me swim. I usually live in temporary pools, created by heavy rainfall. I’m supposed to grow up before the pool dries up! When the pool gets so small that I start bumping into my brothers and sisters, I then know I have to grow up fast. I primarily feed on algae, but if the pool I live in gets too crowded, I may eat any organism smaller than I. When I transform, I develop legs, lose my tail, and develop lungs. Finally I leap onto land and jump away. Now, I have two strong back legs and two short front legs. My skin is usually brown and bumpy. I jump around all day, sometimes on land and sometimes in the water, or on lily pads. I eat insects and bugs that I catch with my long sticky tongue. Sometimes I have to hop away from kids who try to catch me! Who am I when I’m young? Who am I when I grow up?

Answer #26

ANSWER: Tadpole

Feature Creature #25

I am not native to Pennsylvania I am a hybrid between a golden trout and a rainbow trout. I am stocked in Pennsylvania solely for sport fishing. I am very golden in color, but I have pinkish sections possibly on my fins, lateral line or cheeks. I can grow up to 45 inches in length, but the biggest most anglers will see is about 24 inches. The record weight for my Pennsylvania is 11 pounds. I act similarly to a rainbow trout and am stocked in areas where rainbows adjust well. I am very visible in the water and often preyed upon by anglers, great blue heron, osprey, bald eagles, and many other predators. You will never see a fingeling of my species in a stream because I can’t reproduce. I am not found naturally so I am raised in hatcheries. What am I?

Answer #25

ANSWER: Palomino

Feature Creature #24

I thrive in shallow areas of freshwater usually around an abundance of plants, debris, and stones. I like to avoid light, so I am extremely active at night. My soft, muscular, and flat body ranges in size between 4-450mm when I am fully extended. The pattern on top of my body can be brightly colored containing stripes of red, yellow, orange, and green. My background colors can vary from tan, brown, gray, or black. My body consists of eyespots on my first few segments and two suckers on the bottom of my body. My suckers allow for me to be a clinger, attaching myself to solid substrates or to living hosts. I move like an inchworm or caterpillar by making a looping motion. I am carnivorous, and feed off of insect larvae, snails, frogs, fish, turtles, and sometimes even waterfowl and humans.
* There has been a widespread use of my kind in medicine.

My class is Hirudinea

Answer #24


For more information about the Leech check out the following:

  • Page 77 of Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty
  • Page 89 and 202 of A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by
    J. Reese Voshell, Jr.

Feature Creature #23

I generally live in wooded streams, ponds, swamps, and marshes.
The male’s plumage is very colorful and is composed of a rich blend of reds, glossy greens and purples, and some burgundy-brown. Two white “straps” are located on the chin and throat. Also, they have bright orange eyes and a reddish colored bill. The female’s plumage is a rather dull brown color. But they do have a distinct white tear-shaped eye mark. The females are not as colorful as the males because they need to blend into their surroundings in order to protect their young.
The females lay up to 10 to 15 eggs, which are pale olive green or brown in color. The eggs generally hatch in four weeks. Since this type of bird generally nests in tree cavities or in man-made nest boxes, the day old fledglings have to free-fall as much as 60 feet in order to make it to nearby water. A fledgling may bounce once or twice on the ground, but being made out of fluff and cartilage, they are rarely injured.

Can you guess what creature I am?

Answer #23

ANSWER: Wood Duck (Aix sponsa)

Feature Creature #22

I am the single most common, abundant, and distinctive aquatic insect in North America. I usually live at the bottom of streams, lakes, and rivers, attached to stones in areas of riffles with moderate to fast currents. I like to hang out at the bottom of rocks during the day. At night, I come out and feed on the most nutritious algae on the surface of the water. I am 4-6 mm long in my larval stage with either a tan, brown, or black coloration. I have an oval, flattened body and a claw on each of my legs. My flat body tends to conform to the surface that I am clinging to, making it hard for others to detach me from rocks and stones. The best way to pick me up is with forceps or fingernails. Can you believe that trout have the desire to pluck me from the substrate? I am known to be a scraper, removing thin layers of algae for consumption. My jaw has a thin sharp inner edge, much like a paint scraper. I obtain dissolved oxygen through my gills on the underside of my body, but I can also obtain the oxygen through my general body surface. It takes me one to two years for my complete metamorphosis, and I do go through complete metamorphosis. The funny thing is, no one really knows a whole lot about my adult stage. It is assumed that it is short lived and I do not feed in that period of time. I am very sensitive to pollution, making me a good water quality indictor. Oh yeah, and if you haven’t already noticed, I look similar to a familiar coin.

Do you know what I am? What is my common name and what order and family do I belong to?

Answer #22

ANSWER: Water Penny

For more information about the water penny check out the following:

  • Page 365 and 366 of A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by J. Reese Voshell, Jr.
  • Page 226 of Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty

Feature Creature #21

I am a benthic freshwater crustacean, dwelling most commonly in the decomposing vegetation and debris of cool, shallow, spring-fed streams. I’m approximately 5-20 mm long not counting my two pairs of antennae and tails.
I have seven pairs of legs, the first two being modified for grasping detritus, which is my main source of nourishment. My body color can vary greatly but is most commonly creamy light gray or brown, and is often somewhat transparent.
My most prevalent body characteristic is my strongly flattened body from side to side, which also gives me my nickname. My diet consists primarily of decomposing plant matter but also includes the thin film covering underwater plants made up of algae, fungi, and bacteria as well as any recently dead organisms I may come upon in my journeys across the bottom. I am most abundant in small habitats without fish and if conditions are right there can be as many as 10,000 of my kind per square meter of bottom. My predators include fish, amphibians, and water birds. Northwestern and Upper St. Clair High School students definitely discovered these critters in French Creek and McLaughlin Run. If you’re familiar with the Key to Macroinvertebrate Life that many teachers use, I’m located right next to the crayfish. But don’t be fooled! This key is not to scale and I am much smaller than a crayfish, although I do look a bit like a mini shrimp.
Your last clue is that my nickname is “sideswimmer.”

Can you guess what I am??

Answer #21

ANSWER: Scud (A.K.A. Sideswimmer)

For more information about the Scud check out the following:

  • Page 389 Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty
  • Pages 247-251 of A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by J. Reese Voshell, Jr.

Feature Creature #20

I’m the benthic macroinvertebrate version of turtles. I am usually between 2-60mm long and depending on what species I am I like to construct my home, or “case”, out of leaves, rocks, sticks, or a combination of materials. I construct my case by spinning my own silk that I use to hold the materials together. Those of us that live in your streams like to build our cases streamline to avoid being swept away by the current, but some of us might use a trailing stick in our cases as a rudder! Only my head and thorax stick out and my case covers my fleshy abdomen. I use my case for a variety of reasons. My predators that include fish and other benthic macroinvertebrates have a hard time seeing my cases. When I encounter a predator I duck inside my case. So when you are out searching macroinvertebrates make sure to check all the plants and pebbles to see if any of them are one of my cases! Another use of my case is actually to help me breath underwater. I pull dissolved oxygen through my skin and since my fleshy abdomen is protected by my case I can move my abdomen around in my case to increase the flow of water through it. This increased ventilation can allow some of us to live in areas of poor dissolved oxygen, like wetlands and lakes. Most of us that you will find in your streams around here like cool permanent running streams. Depending on which species I am I can be an omnivore, vegetarian, or detritivore. When I’m ready to pupate I make sealed cocoon inside my case and when I’m a fully developed adult I swim to the water’s surface so I can fly around and mate.

Can you guess what I am??

Answer #20

ANSWER: Case Building Caddisfly

For more information about the Case Building Caddisfly check out the following:

  • Page 237 Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty
  • Pages 370-380 of A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by J. Reese Voshell, Jr.

Feature Creature #19

As an adult, I range from 4 to 71/2 inches in length. My coloring can vary, from a reddish brown, yellowish brown, to a light orange. I have a very clouded or mottled appearance. My underside is a lighter color, and I usually have black spots around my throat area. You can identify me by a black line that runs from my eye to my nostril.

I can be found as north as far Southern Maine, and as far south as Alabama. If you come searching for me, you should look in areas where water suddenly springs from the earth (where ground water meets the surface), along high velocity streams, and wet caves. I like cool, well-shaded, and wet areas, such as beneath logs, stones or leaves. These are the habitats I prefer to live in. Also, when searching for me, you should know that I’m partially nocturnal. I like to eat many different types of macroinvertebrates. Some times I will eat a frog or even a member of my own species.

Reproduction begins when the male starts a courtship ritual with the female. The male will rub and prod the females. Often times the males and females will be seen pushing each other and rolling around in the water. This ritual will occur anytime between June and November. I lay eggs one at a time in cool water. The eggs will hatch sometime between April and July.

My taxonomic name is Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus.

Source: https://audubon.wku.edu/daviess/nspring.html

Can you guess what I am??

Answer #19

ANSWER: Northern Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus)

For more information about the Northern Spring Salamander check out the following:

  • Pages 36-37 of Pennsylvania Amphibians and Reptiles by Larry L. Shaffer

Feature Creature #18

I am a small silvery minnow with a distinct, dark lateral band that runs from my snout through my eye to my tail. I have many brown-black specks above my lateral band. It is possible for me to grow to be 4 inches long. You can find me in stagnate water, but I prefer life in the fast lane. Your best bet when looking for me is to search in the headwaters with a moderate current, springfed runs, and the rocky runs of creeks and small rivers. When I become hungry I like to snack on small aquatic forms including blackfly and midge larvae, mayfly nymphs, and crustaceans.

During breeding times, the males develop a rusty-orange or red stripe immediately below the black stripe. Then in the spawning season, which is from May to June, the males acquire pads on the upper surface of the pectoral fins, and our pectoral and pelvic fins become yellow-white or orange. They stake out their own territory and try and protect it from other males. When the males try to attract females they circle and dance around the females. If they are successful, several females will spawn on their nest site. Each female deposits around 750 eggs on the nest. The eggs fall in or on the gravel of the nest and then the parents abandon the eggs to develop on their own. My species can live for three or four years.

My genus name means “snout-fish” and my specie name is derived from a word that means, “clothed in black”.

Can you guess what I am??

Answer #18

ANSWER: Blacknose Dace (Rhinichthys atratulus)

For more information about the Blacknose Dace check out the following:

  • Page 69 of Pennsylvania Fishes by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Feature Creature #17

I may be a “hog,” but keep me out of the mud! I prefer to live on the bottom of clean streams that are free of siltation and pollution. Therefore I am an indicator of good water quality. I spend most of my time foraging on the bottom of streams for any food that I come across, such as plant and small animal material. This makes me popular among my fellow fish in the water. They like to follow me around and eat any animals that I may disturb when I’m feeding. But, my “friends” don’t return the favor. When I lay my eggs in the spring, minnows are waiting there to gobble them up. That’s why I have to lay so many of them! In the end though, the eggs that do survive grow up and become just like me. I have a brown, mottled back, which helps me to blend into the rocks on the bottom of the stream. And my size varies greatly between individuals. I can be anywhere from 6 – 22 in. long and weigh up to four pounds! So next time your out at your stream, look for me.

Can you guess what I am??

Answer #17

ANSWER: Northern Hog Sucker [Hypentelium nigricans]

For more information about the Northern Hog Sucker check out the following:

  • Pages 77-79 of Pennsylvania Fishes by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Feature Creature #16

As a nymph, I live in freshwater and can be between 8-35 mm in length. You may mistake me for a mayfly unless you remember the general rule that mayflies have three stick-like tails and I only have two. I enjoy spending my time under stones in riffles, but I sometimes travel into sandy substrates. Swimming is not my forte; I’d much rather crawl among my stone and gravel home. I mostly eat other macros including mayflies, midges, and small caddisflies, but other types of organic material sometimes finds its way into my diet. It’s your lucky day if you find me in your stream. I’m a good water quality indicator because I can only survive in clean, well-oxygenated waterways. In fact, if you do find me in a low-oxygenated stream or in your sample tray, you might catch me doing “push-ups.” I do this in order to increase the water flow over my gills, which branch off behind the base of my legs.

Can you guess what I am??

Answer #16

ANSWER: Common Stonefly [Order: Plecoptera (Stoneflies) Family: Perlidae (Common Stonefly)]

For more information about stoneflies check out the following:

  • Pages 160-163 of Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty

Feature Creature #15

I am a furbearer, so trappers like to harvest me for my chestnut brown pelt. They find me at the water’s edge- either near ponds, swamps, or rivers. Common in Pennsylvania, I grow to be 22-25″ in length, including my 8-12″ tail. My stout body and short legs only weigh about 2 pounds. My tail is very useful; it props me up when I stand on my hind feet and functions as a rudder and propeller when I swim. My average life span is only 12 months. Cattails are my favorite food.

photo credit: PA Game Commission

When I build a house, I do not work as beavers do- I simply burrow into stream banks instead of damming a waterway. I have been described as a fighter; my principle predator is the mink. Because it is so cold in Northern Pennsylvania, I only have a few litters per year. We spend the winter with Mom, and then start a family of our own in the springtime. Can you guess what I am?

Answer #15

ANSWER: The muskrat (Ondatra zibethicus)

Feature Creature #14

Although it is not as wary as many other frogs, it is still very quick to make its escape burying itself deep in the sediments when threatened. As an adult it will be 2 1/4 – 3 1/2 inches in size. Folds of skin on its back distinguish this frog from the bullfrog. This frog’s folds extend from above the eardrum to about halfway back the body. In other frogs these folds run the whole way back and under the groin. Primarily nocturnal, it may occasionally move about during the day in search of food. It feeds on both vertebrates and invertebrates. Small fish, and aquatic macroinvertebrates, like dragonfly larvae and water striders, make up a large part of this creature’s diet. This creature molts four or five times a year, and if it is on land when it molts it will eat the shed skin. This creature is also quite vocal. It sits in shallow water or on the leaf of a bullhead lily and inflates the vocal sac in its throat. The sound emitted is low- pitched and twangy and is often described as an out-of-tune banjo. The vocalization can be repeated three to four times with decreasing volume on each note.

Does this feature creature sound familiar?

Answer #14

ANSWER: Northern green frog

For more information about the northern green frog and other frogs, check out the following:

  • Pages 45, 52, 69-70 of Pennsylvania Amphibians & Reptiles by Larry L. Shaffer

Feature Creature #13

With a wingspan of 6-8 feet and a height of around 2 feet, this is the largest bird sometimes found along Western Pennsylvania waterways. Despite its reputation, this bird is not a strong flier. Rather, it uses currents of warm air, called thermals, to soar through the air.

Fish compose anywhere from sixty to ninety percent of their diet and they obtain fish by either swooping down and grasping fish off of the surface of the water, or attacking other birds forcing them to surrender their food. Although they can hunt for fish, they mainly consume dead or dying fish from the waterways. Their diet is not limited to fish though, and they will eat many types of carrion or even sea lion dung, if our creeks had sea lions.

These birds build their nests, or eyries, in the split branches of tall trees. An eyrie is usually about 5 feet in diameter and 3 feet deep. As years of breeding progress, an eyrie gets built up and continues to grow in size. These nests often make the trees top heavy and cause them to collapse. One eyrie found in Florida measured more than 9 feet wide, 20 feet deep, and weighed over 2 tons!

This bird has few natural predators. Black bears and raccoons try to enter nests, but are usually driven off by the adults around the nest. And, anyway, the immature form of this bird is usually larger than the adult, with the immature females outgrowing their male parent at 2 months of age. This bird used to be on the Federal Endangered Species list due to human activity, especially pesticides in aquatic ecosystems, poaching, and deforestation.

Answer #13

ANSWER:Bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Feature Creature #12

This creature is one of the most common stream fishes in Pennsylvania. Found in all watersheds, it tolerates various water quality and temperatures (it’s even active in the winter). Because they are often natural prey for predator fish, they are commonly used as bait.

Averaging 4 inches, this fish is light to dark olive, with a silvery shading on the sides and purple-violet reflections above a silvery belly. Males can have very slight coloration differences (blues, yellows, or oranges) when breeding. Males build nest by pushing pebbles, building a row of gravel in line with the flow of the stream which has a depression at the end. Males vigorously defend the nest against predators. Do you know this creature? Do you know the Order and Family of this Creature?

Answer #12

ANSWER: Creek Chub

Feature Creature #11

Since many schools are involved right now with a lot of macroinvertebrate work, identifying this feature creature should be a breeze. This creature is a “true fly”. Adults can be easily recognized, but the larvae are a little harder to identify. The larvae have fleshy, segmented bodies and a well-developed head that is partially or fully retracted within the thoracic segment. The last abdominal segment has two obvious spiracles or breathing holes that are bordered by one to six finger-like lobes. Larvae are usually 3/8 to 4 inches long. They can commonly be found in the midst of leaf packs, using them as food and habitat.

The adult stage of this creature is undoubtedly well known by many. The adult ranges in size from about ½-2 inches and has legs that are very long in relation to the body size. It is mosquito-like in appearance, but it has no biting mouth parts. Though it is often attracted to lights, the adult often remains close to the water and may get caught in the surface tension. This creature can have one to two generations a year, and its aquatic stage can vary from six weeks to five years. Evidence of this creature can indicate good or fair water quality, since it is somewhat pollution tolerant.

Do you know what the Feature Creature is? Do you know the Order and Family of this Creature?

Answer #11

ANSWER: Crane Fly (Order: Diptera, Family: Tipulidae)

For more information about this aquatic creature, check out the following:

  • Page 294 of Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty
  • Pages 410-411 of A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by J. Reese Voshell Jr.

Space Feature Creature #10

If you are lucky, you will find this creature in your stream. It can only survive in healthy waterways with good oxygen but can live in the smallest of streams to the largest of rivers. Since some schools right now are searching for macroinvertebrates (bugs you can see with the naked eye) in the bottom of their creeks, we thought we would check if you have seen this bug and know what it is.

This creature usually has three stick-like tails, but sometimes they break off. It breathes through feather-like gills located on its abdomen (lower portion of the body). This creature has 1 claw at the end of each leg and has a single set of wing pads (not wings because it is not an adult yet). These are the general characteristics for this insect order. The particular family of insects illustrated is distinguished by having tusks up front to assist it with digging into the bottom sediments and silt. These tusks curve upward and outward and have no spines (hard hairs) on them.

Do you know in general, what order of insect this creature belongs to? Do you know what family it
belongs to?

Answer #10

ANSWER: Mayfly Nymph [Order: Ephemeroptera (Mayflies) Family: Ephemeridae (Common Burrower Mayfly)]

For more information about this aquatic creature, check out the following:

  • Page 115 of Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty
  • Pages 267-274 of A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by J. Reese Voshell Jr

Space Feature Creature #9

This creature might appreciate Maplewood’s efforts to restore a shady riparian zone because it requires cooler streams for survival. As the official Pennsylvania state fish, this native fish doesn’t grow as large as others in this fish’s family.

Its color ranges from light to dark olive gray or black, with light cream to olive, irregular, worm-like markings. It often has red spots with bluish halos on its body. The tail fin is squarish, and the front edge of its lower fins are lined in white. Do you know what type of fish this is?

Answer #9

ANSWER: Brook Trout (Salvelinus fontinalis)

.(Picture from Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Website)

For more information about this aquatic creature, check out the following:

  • Page 113 of Pennsylvania Fishes by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission

Feature Creature #8

This creature is usually nocturnal. It feeds on decaying matter, insect larvae, worms, and others of its kind. If threatened, it uses its wide uropods like a fan to dart backwards. If it wants to fight, it would use its chelipeds for defense.

But it usually uses them for grasping and crushing food, which is then passed to its maxillipeds for further handling and tearing. The chelipeds and maxillipeds are just examples of the 19 pairs of specialized appendages this creature has. Do you have any idea what it is?

Answer #8

ANSWER: Crayfish (Order: Decapoda)

For more information about this aquatic creature, check out the following:

  • Pages 101-102 of Pond and Brook by Michael J. Caduto
  • Pages 390-391 of Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty
  • Pages 254-258 of A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America by J. Reese Voshell Jr.

Feature Creature #7

Most of the time, we travel through Pennsylvania each fall and return in the spring, but some of us reside here all year round. The oldest ganders usually lead the lines and vees because they know the way south. Adult males, or ganders, average 36 inches in length and weigh in at nine pounds. Often referred to as “honkers”, we are all identical: black, white, and gray.

We like to damage crops for farmers, not to be mean, but because we like to eat grass and new sprouts. Our babies are very cute and fuzzy, and we like to show them off in city parks, reservoirs, and farm ponds. At one time our survival was threatened, but now you can find us almost anywhere out in the country. I might also add that we are quite intelligent and wary–we can see you silly hunters out there behind your blinds! If we don’t, you might have found us on your dinner platter at the holiday feast! Do you know who we are?

Answer #7

ANSWER: Canada Geese (Order: Anseriformes, Family: Anatidae)

Feature Creature #6

I’m the largest amphibian in Pennsylvania. I can reach lengths of up to 29 inches, although the females of my species tend to be slightly larger than the males. I’m also a pretty heavy creature as amphibians go, weighing at times as much as 5 pounds! And I can live up to 29 years.

My skin is wrinkled and folded which increases my ability to respire through it. I am permanently aquatic, and I live under large rocks in streams and rivers that have a strong current. I hunt for the food of my choice, the crayfish, especially at night.

Answer #6

ANSWER: Hellbender (Order: Caudata, Family: Cryptobranchidae)

For more information about this aquatic creature, check out the following:

  • February 1996 French Creek Project Fact Sheet by Chris Resek
  • Page 21-22 of Pennsylvania Amphibians & Reptiles by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission

Feature Creature #5

I’m an aquatic vertebrate but not quite like the ones you’re used to seeing. I have no paired fins, and a single nostril makes it tough during allergy season! I have the worst trouble eating as well. I have no jaw, just a circular gape. When I’m a larvae, they call me and my brothers ammocoetes.

I couldn’t see any of them, though, because I am unable to see until I metamorphose (change) into an adult. In the French Creek Watershed, I’m found in three different varieties–the Ohio, American brook, and Mountain brook. Now can you guess who I am?

Answer #5

ANSWER: American Brook Lamprey (Lampetra appendix) (Family: Petromyzontidae)

.(Picture from Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Website)

For more information about this aquatic creature, check out the following:

  • Page 33 of Pennsylvania Fishes by the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission
  • Pages 11-12 of the Fishes of French Creek Watershed by Laura Wies

Feature Creature #4

I’m not a very fast little guy. I am usually camouflaged to look like the substrate rocks I try to live between. My outer shells are hinged together making me a bivalve. I only have one foot and don’t often travel long distances. I mainly just use my foot to anchor myself to the bottom of the stream.

There are 26 species (kinds) of me in the French Creek Watershed, 2 species are endangered. When you try to guess who I am, put some strength into your decision.

Answer #4

ANSWER: Freshwater Mussel

For more information about this aquatic creature, check out the following:

  • Workbook of Freshwater Mussels: A Teacher’s Resource Guide by Amy Lynn Shema

Feature Creature #3

I’m just a little fish. I only reach about 2 3/4 inches. My snout is sharp-pointed and my tail fin is somewhat rounded. I have a dark tint to my body with little red spots scattered throughout. I’m also very picky about where I live. I only like large unpolluted streams like French Creek and the upper Allegheny River regionally. I stay pretty much in deep pools where the stream velocity is very low.

Unfortunately, my picky habits have also made me “endangered” across the US. Do you know what general group of fish I belong to? What specific fish am I?

Answer #3

ANSWER: Darter (Family: Pericidae)

.(Picture from Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission Website)

For more information about this aquatic creature, check out the following:

  • Pages 23-25 in The Fishes of French Creek Watershed by Laura Wies
  • Pages 146-158 in Pennsylvania Fishes by the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission

Feature Creature #2

I’m just a simple bird. I have a wingspan of about 22 to 25 inches. My plumage is rich brown sprinkled with white and black above my breast and white with horizontal dark brown bars on my breast and undersides. I do have a ruff of iridescent black feathers that almost completely encircle my neck.

I could also be a bird in a band because of the way that I attract a mate. I stand on top of a big rock and beat my wings so fast that it produces a drumming noise that attracts females. If you don’t know me yet then just remember that I am a prominent citizen of grown up meadows in all Pennsylvania watersheds!

Answer #2

ANSWER: Ruffed Grouse (Order: Galliformes, Family: Tetraonidae)

.(Photo from Ruffed Grouse Society)

Feature Creature #1

I’m just an insect that moves through three stages of development. Although, I only live a short while (about a week) as an adult, I do get as big as 45-48mm (wing to head). As a larvae you may mistake me with one of my other insect friends, but if you look closer we are different.

We both have 8 pairs of lateral filaments, but I have gill tufts underneath mine. I also have no tail, but two anal prolegs with 2 hooks on each. Below are some of my personal snapshots.

Answer #1

ANSWER: Dobsonfly Larva (Hellgrammite) (Order: Megaloptera, Family: Corydalidae)

For more information about this aquatic creature, check out the following:

  • Pages 164-165 of Pond and Brook by Michael J. Caduto
  • Pages 189-196 of Aquatic Entomology by W. Patrick McCafferty