Creek Critters (Macroinvertebrates)

Creek Critters masthead

The Creek Critters activity pages below can be done without visiting a creek, pond or lake. It is all done on paper with pictures of macroinvertebrates (bugs!). We also provide information about actually going to a body of water if you can see that this warm up activity has sparked an interest in your child. Enjoy!

Lesson/Activity pages (PDFs)

K-2 CC Thumbnail Bug

Grades K-2 Complete Creek Critters Packet

Grades K-2 Creek Critters Answer Key

3-6 CC Thumbnail Bug

Grades 3-6 Complete Creek Critters Packet

Grades 3-6 Creek Critters Answer Key


How do I properly collect macroinvertebrates?

When catching macroinvertebrates (macros):

  • handle them carefully as they are living organisms and an important part of the ecosystem.
  • limit their time out of the water. Bring an ice cube tray or other small, white plastic container with you to hold some of the habitat water for holding the bugs while observing them.
  • return them alive to the same body of water.

What are good locations in our area to collect macroinvertebrates?

We aren’t kidding around when we recommend that kids wear life jackets when collecting macroinvertebrate (macros) samples. Creek and lake banks can be slippery and deceivingly deep not far from shore. Of course, they should always be accompanied by a responsible adult. You know your child best but even if they know how to swim, the combination of cold water and being startled can be a dangerous situation.

Additionally, each of these locations has posted rules and regulations. It is your responsibility to know those.

St. George’s Kayak Launch

  • This public launch has space to find macros plus there may be a few other accessible spots other than the launch itself. A Discover Pass is required.

Bear Lake Regional Park

  • This has great lake access on the northwest and northeast portions of the park.
  • Free parking and a walking path completely around the lake.

Saltese Flats Wetland Area

  • Saltese Flats has sections of shoreline that are accessible. The pond is the only recommended body water on Saltese for macroinvertebrate collection. The canals are steep and deep and not a good source for macros.  
  • At this time, the parking is a simple pullout off of Henry Road. A permanent lot in a different location and Learning Center is planned in phases in the next couple of years. From Henry Road, it is about a third of a mile walk on a dirt path to the pond.
  • IMPORTANT:  This site has frequent closures due to both land and water management as the restoration continues. It is strongly recommended that you call (509) 477-7577 or email waterinfo@spokanecounty.org to receive an update of any closures and do this at least two days before visiting. To learn more about the wetland restoration, click here.
  • Because Saltese is a natural, less developed area, you are required to "Pack it in, pack it out." Leave no trace that you were there. No toilets at Saltese Flats though there are some up the road at the Saltese Uplands parking lot.

Liberty Lake Regional Park

  • The public beach in this park is a great location for collecting water critters. If you don’t get a wide variety, you may need to move along the shore into some weedier areas.
  • Entry/parking is inexpensive and there is a lot of space for a picnic or just running off a little steam. If you walk south beyond the camping area, Liberty Creek is also a good collection area.  Plan on a 1-2 mile round trip walk if going up Liberty Creek.

Medical Lake Waterfront Park

  • Easy public access and a pleasant community park. Good shoreline vegetation that attracts a nice variety of macros.
  • Free parking and a walking path along the south and west side of the lake.

Have time to give our Creek Critters a quick review?  Please take this short survey so that we can continue to improve our remote learning resources!

Questions?  Please email us at wrc@spokanecounty.org