The Stream Doctor

October 27th, 2003

Email YOUR Questions directly to the Stream Doctor. This is your opportunity to get an experts professional opinion on anything stream related.

Q. From W. Powell. I'm a trout fisherman who's contracted a bad case of the entomology bug - a wannabe entomologist - who's become stumped by a scarcity of good solid information about stoneflies. No fishing related texts I've seen provide the kind of detail I seek, though I haven't seen the Swisher - Richards work Stoneflies. The most useful fisherman's entomology I've encountered is either Caucci - Nastasi's Hatches II or McCafferty's Aquatic Entomology, but even these fall short of the quantity of information I'm seeking, although in reference to stoneflies, such a quantity of material as they provide would certainly represent a tremendous increase over what I have now. Can you suggest some material that I might find useful?

A. Pat McCafferty's book is a good one and I recommend it highly. I have not read the other two you mention so cannot comment on them.

However, I can provide a few references that may help you. Here they are:

    1. Nymphs of North American Stonefly Genera (Plecoptera) by Kenneth W. Stewart and Bill P. Stark. Univ. of No. Texas Press, Denton, 1993. ISBN 0-929398-55-6

    As the title indicates, it emphasizes the nymphs, rather than adults, but does present information on life histories, etc. It has excellent keys to the nymphs, but like any taxonomical reference, some of it becomes outdated as taxonomists continually revise the systematics, discover new species, etc. In fact, the last time I saw Ken, I think he told me that a new edition of this was either in preparation or just out. The memory starts to go when you get my age.

    A sidenote: Ken gets a lot of kidding about being the only entomologist written up by Sports Illustrated. He discovered that male stoneflies "drum" to attract females; somehow, this piqued the interest of SI and they published a story about it.

    The above is the only book specifically on stoneflies that I have in my library. The following references are broader in scope (but narrower in detail), although each contains information on stoneflies.

    2. An Introduction to the Aquatic Insects of North America, 3rd ed. edited by R.W. Merritt and K.W. Cummins. Kendall/Hunt Publ. Co., 1996. ISBN 0-7872-1761-1

    This is mainly a taxonomic reference although there is some information on biology, ecology, etc. of the different groups. Ken Stewart (see above) wrote the section on stoneflies. It is the most widely used general reference for insect taxonomy.

    3. Aquatic Insect Ecology. 1. Biology and Habitat by J.V. Ward. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1992. ISBN 0-471-55007-8

    A formal text covering many aspects of the biology and ecology of aquatic insects. James never did complete succeeding volumes, but this one has a lot of good information.

    4. An Illustraed Guide to the Mountain Stream Insects of Colorado, 2nd ed by J.V. Ward, B.C. Kondratieff, and R.E. Zuellig. Univ. Press of Colorado, 2002. ISBN 0-87081-653-5

    A small paperback with biological and ecological information on the fauna of Colorado streams; good illustrations and keys to genera.

    5. Streams: Their Ecology and Life by C.E. Cushing and J.D. Allan. Academic Press, 2001. ISBN 0-12-050340-9

    I saved the best to last! Seriously, we wrote this as a "textbook for layman" and it covers the entire aspect of stream ecology. There is a chapter on insects, with a section on stoneflies; most of the information was gleaned from the above references plus McCafferty's book.

If you need references to other insect groups, let me know.

If you have a question, please feel free to contact me.
~ C. E. (Bert) Cushing, aka Streamdoctor
105 W. Cherokee Dr.
Estes Park, CO 80517
Phone: 970-577-1584

The 'Stream Doctor' is a retired professional stream ecologist and author, now living in the West and spending way too much time fly-fishing. You are invited to submit questions relating to anything stream related directly to him for use in this Q & A Feature at

If you would like to comment on this or any other article please feel free to post your views on the FAOL Bulletin Board!

Previous Stream Doctor Columns

[ HOME ]

[ Search ] [ Contact FAOL ] [ Media Kit ] © Notice