Who can be involved?
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Get involved!

Anyone can be involved! If you are interested in rivers, streams, wetlands, ponds, oxbows or even farm dams, then join us as we figure out how many of Australia's waterways are in good nick, and how many need a bit more TLC. 

We'll be using a net and an app to have a closer look our waterways.  By identifying the littler animals (waterbugs) that live in them, we can learn a lot about freshwater ecology, and also how healthy these bodies of water are. 

Waterbug experts will also be on hand to answer questions and confirm waterbug identifications.

Why get involved?

  1. learn about freshwater ecosystems and waterbugs
  2. get outdoors and spend time in nature discovering and exploring our waterways
  3. figure out if the waterways you care about are healthy
  4. contribute to data sets that can help us improve the condition of our rivers and wetlands

How long does a Waterbug Blitz take?

Participants can get involved in the National Waterbug Blitz in three ways:

Blitz Level

Mayfly Muster

QUICK Waterbug Survey

DETAILED Waterbug Survey

  mayfly-yellow mayfly-green mayfly-blue
Ease of participation Quick Easy Detailed
What does it involve? Have a quick look under rocks and on wood in the waterway ... can you see any mayflies?  Tell us about it even if you don't (we want to know where they aren't). Identify the obvious waterbugs such as dragonflies and water striders and use these to assess your site.

Complete a full assessment of your site identifying as many animals as you can with a magnifying glass, using the Agreed Level Taxonomy (ALT) method.

Time  Approx. 20 minutes Approx. 1-2 hours

A few hours or make a day of it!


The waterbug survey uses the Agreed Level Taxonomy (ALT) method, which has been specially designed for both citizen scientists and professional scientists to use to collect quality data. It uses clear, every-day language and explanations for identifying waterbugs without the need for microscopes.

River Detectives is a simplified method directed for schools and new participants, which identifies bugs to the equivalent of order level.

Both the River Detective and the waterbug survey methods use live pick methods where participants collect the waterbugs with a net and identifying them in trays, then returning them alive to the river (Our buddy Priya describes the whole process here on youtube).

The data can also be compared with other existing data sets collected by government departments and other scientists, such as SIGNAL. See more information at The Waterbug Company ALT webpage for more information on the waterbug survey method.

What resources and training will be available?

A range of free resources are available to assist participants to complete the Blitz:


The App

The Waterbug App: helps with waterbug identification. Download it for free from Google Play or iTunes.  The current version helps with waterbug identification.  Once we launch the program it will assess your site as well!


Waterbug Gear

Nets and gear are available from The Waterbug Shop.


Waterbug ID training

Training sessions can be arranged through The Waterbug Shop if you'd like to sponsor one in your area or by contacting us if you'd like to find out if there are any already organised near you.


To complete a Waterbug Blitz, all you’ll need are some nets, a bucket, white trays, spoons, pipettes and your smart phone. Printed copies of the waterbug identification guide and result sheets are also available if you don't want to get your phone wet (available from The Waterbug Shop, or you can download them for free and print them out yourself here).

Participants will be able to use a mobile device (e.g. smart phone) to submit photographs of waterbugs they can’t recognise for our waterbug experts to identify.

A range of Waterbug Blitz training workshops will be on offer for National Waterbug Blitz for volunteers and local support partners who may wish to enhance their Waterbug Blitz skills prior to the annual survey. Contact us to organise one for your area.  More details to come!

What happens to all the data?

Once we have a bunch of different people's data from all over Australia we make maps like these.  We'll also turn the data into short reports for catchments where people are super keen. 

We are also looking for historical waterbug data, so once we get that we can compare what was found in the rivers and wetlands around you in the past and see if they have got worse, better or stayed the same.  This will help us flag waterbodies that might need help.

Keen? Buy the T shirt... or the travel mug....

We have merchandise that you can buy featuring our funky logo here.  Help get the word out about The Waterbug Blitz without even talking to people!

merch swag