VCSU Macro-Invertabrate Lab
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About this key
This key is meant to aid the identification of aquatic insects found in North Dakota. It is primarily meant to be used by students, citizen groups, and professionals. It will be useful for those who want to implement a biomonitoring program as well as those who are just interested in what little creatures live in our aquatic habitats. Keep in mind these keys are for a specific geographical area and probably aren't suitable for general use in other areas. This key has been based on 7 years of collections carried out by the North Dakota Department of Health and 5 years of collecting carried out by Dr. Andre DeLorme's macroinvertebrate lab at Valley City State University.

This key contains taxa lists, general keys, and range maps for the different types of aquatic insects found in North Dakota rivers and streams. This key is not a traditional dichotomous key. We have tried to create a more user friendly key that takes advantages of the computer to provide a near limitless amount of illustrations and information. This project is a work in progress, please feel free to contact us with any comments or suggestions you may have by clicking on the "Contact us" at the bottom of this page.

Visit our Companion site
We have developed a website the covers the non-insect aquatic macroinvertebrates from North Dakota rivers and streams. It covers such groups as the snails, leeches, clams, and others. Visit it at

What is Biomonitoring?
Biomonitoring is the cataloging of which organisms live in a particular habitat and then, from knowledge of what conditions those organisms tolerate, determining the well being of that particular habitat. For river systems, the biomonitoring of aquatic invertebrates, such as insects, is recognized as an important tool for determining a rivers health and, with proper background data, identifying changes in that health. For instance, if you go to a portion of the river and the main organisms collected are leeches, bloodworms, and certain types of snails, the water quality in that area is very poor. If, on the other hand you collect a lot of mayfly larvae, stonefly larvae, and caddisfly larvae, these are usually indicators of very good water quality. If you continue this sampling over long periods of time you can document changes that indicate changes in water quality.

Navigation Help
Need help navigating our site? Click here for information on the features of this site. Otherwise, proceed with the buttons on the left margin or the links below.

This web site was funded by Region VIII EPA Section 319 funds administered by the Department of Environmental Quality/ Division of Water Quality..

Visit Dept. of Environmental Quality/Division of Water Quality

Click here for a list of publications we have used in our lab for aquatic insect identification and for preparing this website.

This web site is funded by Region VIII EPA Section 319 funds administered by the North Dakota Department of Health.
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Valley City State University - 101 College Street SW - Valley City, ND 58072 - 1-800-532-8641
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