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Meet the Bugs

What are waterbugs?

Waterbugs (freshwater macroinvertebrates) are small invertebrates that live in freshwater for all, or part of, their life cycle. These can include juvenile stages of many insects like dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, caddisflies, water beetles and more. 

  • Freshwater/ aquatic = lives in water

  • Macro = can be seen with the naked eye or magnifying glass

  • Invertebrate = have no backbone (exoskeleton instead)

Waterbugs and water quality

These very small creatures live in our freshwater waterways and are highly sensitive to changes in the water. Each type of waterbug has a certain sensitivity to pollution or water quality changes in their waterway. Therefore, the quality of a river, creek or wetland will determine the presence or absence of these animals living in the water. 

In a very disturbed, poor quality waterway, only a few very hardy waterbugs (who are not sensitive to water quality changes) will be present. These include snails, bloodworms and backswimmers.


In good quality waterways, water bugs that are sensitive to change will also be found, such as stonefly nymphs, mayfly nymphs, caddisfly nymphs. These waterways should also have a good diversity of waterbugs present.



Get involved

By completing the Waterbug Blitz, we can look at the type and number of bugs found in a waterway, which can tell you how healthy it is. Exploring your waterway to discover the types of bugs it contains (and hence how healthy it is) is a lot of fun. These tiny creatures are also a key food source for other freshwater aquatic animals such as native fish, platypus, frogs, birds and lots more.