The Net Result
Characters: Ellie, Dad, Maisie Mayfly nymph, Steven Stonefly nymph, Justin Case caddisfly larva.
Props: large magnifying lens; coat hanger, scrub brush, bottlebrush or round hair brush.
Ellie Hey, Dad. Is it okay if I stay here while you fish? I want to look for a special rock to take home. I’ve got my magnifying lens with me. (hold up lens) See?
Dad Okay, but I’m going to move upstream where your splashing won’t scare all the fish away! (exits)
Ellie Thanks, Dad. Oh, here’s a nice rock. Hey, there’s something wiggling on it!
Maisie Mayfly Mayday! Mayday! Help! Help!
Ellie Why, who are you, and what’s the matter?
Mayfly I’m Maisie Mayfly, and I’m beached! Out of water! On dry land! Help, help, mayday!
Ellie If you’re a fly, why don’t you just fly away?
Mayfly Do I look like I have wings?
Ellie Hmm…three tails, legs…but no wings. How come you’re called a fly, if you can’t fly?
Mayfly I don’t have wings yet. I’m like you – still a kid. I’m called a nymph at this stage. I hope you’ll put me back. I’ve still got some growing to do and that means eating.
Ellie Well, what do you like to eat? I’ve got part of my sandwich left!
Mayfly Oh, no thanks, unless it’s got some algae growing on it. You see, I eat algae that I scrape off rocks. I’m a scraper-feeder.
Ellie Then I’d better put you back in the stream. Gee, the current’s awfully fast here. Won’t you get washed away?
Mayfly Me? No, I can just hold onto the rocks. Here, I’ll hold up my foot and you’ll see why! (exit, hold up coat hanger behind lens)
Ellie Wow, a hook! You hold on with hooks!
Mayfly (put down coat hanger, reenter) That’s right – you get the point! Now, how about putting me back so I can scrape up some lunch?
Ellie Okay. Here you go. Bye, Maisie. (Mayfly exits) Let’s see, here’s another special rock, under that bunch of dead leaves…huh! What’s that wiggling in the leaves?
Steven Stonefly Put me back, put me back!
Ellie Another mayfly nymph? No wait, you’ve only got two tails.
Stonefly I’m not a mayfly. I’m a stonefly nymph. Steven Stonefly at your service.
Ellie A stonefly? Do you live on stones too?
Stonefly On, under, or in between. If you’re looking for a stonefly, leave no stone unturned!
Ellie But I found you in this pile of dead leaves.
Stonefly That pile of leaves was my lunch! I eat the leaves that fall into the stream – shred them up like a paper shredder!
Ellie Do all stoneflies eat dead leaves?
Stonefly Not all. Some are predators, but Giant Stoneflies like me, we’re shredders. Pretty important work, you know.
Ellie It is?
Stonefly Well, if we didn’t shred ’em, the stream would get all clogged up. Besides, there’d be nothing for the smaller critters to eat.
Ellie Oh, I get it. Shredders chew the leaves into tiny pieces that smaller insects can eat.
Stonefly That’s right. Glad I could shred some light on the subject. Now I’d like to go back in the stream to get some air.
Ellie Air? In the water?
Stonefly Sure! Water has air in it, especially cold, fast water. I have something special that helps me breathe, under my legs here. Take a look. (exit, hold up scrub brush behind lens).
Ellie A brush? How does that help?
Stonefly (put down brush, reenter) Not a brush – gills! They help me get air out of the water, just like a fish’s gills. Now, please put me back – someplace where the rocks are churning up the water.
Ellie The rocks are churning up the water?
Stonefly Sure. Whenever the water tumbles over a rock, some air gets mixed in.
Ellie Oh. Well, here’s a nice churned-up place. Bye-bye, Stonefly. (Stonefly exits) Hey look, there’s something glued to my rock – a tiny case made of twigs.
Caddisfly This case is my home, so when you’re done casing out the joint, please put me back in the stream!
Ellie Oh, are you a kind of snail?
Caddisfly No, I’m not a snail! I’m a case-builder, a caddisfly larva. My name’s Justin, Justin Case.
Ellie Did you build this little tube?
Caddisfly Sure! It keeps me safe from predators. And we glue our cases to rocks so the current can’t wash us away.
Ellie Then how do you go looking for food?
Caddisfly Oh, we don’t look for food. We’re collectors. We just collect the food that floats our way – bits of shredded leaves, tiny plants and animals. My legs are great for catching food. Here, take a look. (exit, hold up bottlebrush behind lens)
Ellie Wow! Your leg’s like a bottlebrush!
Caddisfly (reenters) Right! Food gets caught in the bristles and I lick it off. It’s a fringe benefit.
Ellie Will you have wings someday?
Caddisfly Sure! I’ll be a flying insect, if I don’t get eaten first.
Ellie Well, I’m going to put you and this special rock right back in the stream. So long, caddisfly. (caddisfly exits, lens down) Oh, hi, Dad.
Dad Hi, Ellie. Where’s your special rock?
Ellie Well, it was so special I put it back. It’s an important part of the stream ecosystem, you know.
Dad A rock?
Ellie Of course! It makes the water tumble and mixes in air.
Dad That’s important for trout. They need cold, bubbly water.
Ellie And insects too. This rock’s a place where young insects can hang on and get air and food and have a safe place to grow up.
Dad Now, how’d you learn about all that?
Ellie Oh, you know, some little bugs told me!