North Cascades National Park Insects

More often a source of revulsion, fear and annoyance than respect and gratitude, these many-legged, miniscule creatures are a vital part of the North Cascades ecosystem. Their creeping and crawling actually helps till the soil, break down nutrients and transport seeds. Being low on the food chain, insects are an important food source for many of the more familiar and well-liked animals.

Insects considered by many to be pests, such as mosquitoes, are actually kept in check by the more reviled spiders. In fact, while many of these creatures are considered nuisances, they are not only beneficial to the park environment, but are absolutely essential.

Aquatic insects, known as macroinvertebrates, are important food sources for the many species of fish that dwell in the rivers and lakes of the park, but are also important as indicators of water quality and habitat condition. Macroinvertebrates live in the water year-round and serve biologists as a sort of barometer of stream health as they are especially sensitive to environmental change and degradation. By studying these small creatures, park biologists are able to identify changes in water habitat not readily apparent through other methods.

From beetles to caterpillars to naiads and everything in between, these creatures may be small of stature but they are of great importance.

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