Hunt for bugs at OMSP Aug. 8

Park naturalist Emily Cook will use nets like these at Lake Stomp to test water quality by catch bugs. (Contributed)

Park naturalist Emily Cook will use nets like these at Lake Stomp to test water quality by catch bugs. (Contributed)

By JESSA PEASE / Staff Writer 

PELHAM— Tiny insects lurk in the creeks and streams that flow through Oak Mountain State Park, and the best way to learn about those macroinvertebrates is to join park naturalist Emily Cook at Lake Stomp Aug. 8.

Lake Stomp is an annual event at Oak Mountain where children and families search for aquatic insects to explore the quality of the water. Just by identifying and counting the different aquatic insects in a small area, you can tell if a lake, stream or pond is polluted.

“(My favorite part is) being able to show them, without doing chemical tests, that just by looking at it this bug that this water here is clean,” Cook said. “(It) introduces them to a way to test the lake instead of chemicals.”

Macroinvertebrates are bottom-dwelling organisms such as crayfish, clams, snails and insect larvae, and they are used to test water quality because they are plentiful, often slow moving and easy to collect.

Dragonflies prefer to inhabit fairly clean water, for example, and aquatic worms prefer dirty water but can live in healthy water. If both of those insects are found in one sample, the water must be fairly clean.

In past years, Lake Stomp has taken place at the lake in Oak Mountain State Park, but this year Cook said she is in search of some new bugs. She said she will lead her group to some of the streams, so they can learn about some different insects from previous years.

“(Kids enjoy) playing in the water,” Cook said. “Some of them enjoy finding a bug.”

Cook will meet participants at the Park Office on Terrace Drive, and will begin showing everyone around starting at 10 a.m. They will all have to be prepared to get wet, which Cook believes is some of the most fun as they stumble upon snails or old shells.

Admission to Lake Stomp is free with park admission, which is $1 for children 11 or younger and $4 for adults. For more information, call 620-2520 or email oakmountain.naturalist@dcnr.alabama.gov.