(Pdf version)

Recommended Grade:  Primary

Background Information: 

1.  Mosquito pupa – All mosquitoes go through different life stages before they become the flying and biting insects that most students are familiar.  They start as eggs in water and hatch as mosquito larva.  They molt their exoskeletons and change into the pupa stage.  This stage is a resting, non-feeding part of their life.  When development is complete they transform into a flying mosquito.  It takes a mosquito from 10-14 days to go from egg to flying insect depending on species and water temperature.

2. Copepod -  Copepods are diverse aquatic crustaceans that are founds in habitats ranging from fresh to salty conditions.  Free living copepods feed on bacteria, diatoms, an other unicellular organisms.  Eggs are carried in cluster in one or a pair of air sac attached to the base of the female abdomen.  They have characteristic antennae from the head region.

3. Phantom midge – This is a stage prior to its transformation into a non-biting midge fly.  The phantom midge is transparent with large mouth parts and eyes.  Sometimes they are referred to as “ghost worm.”  They filter water with their mouthparts to get food.  The midges eat cladocera, copepods, and other small aquatic animals.   Phantom midges are eaten by water spiders.

4. Cladocera – “Water flea”  is the common name for fresh water Cladocera, a large group of fresh water Crustacea.  They have a transparent carapace (shell) that covers its shrimp-like body.  This group helps to determine the health of a lake as different species are used in toxicity studies.

5. Worm (leech) -  Leeches belong to the invertebrate annelid (worm) group.  It is flattened lengthwise and has a sucker-feeding apparatus at each end.  They feed on decaying animals and plant debris.  An abundance of leeches in water usually indicate very poor water quality.

This coloring exercise helps students focus on major components of plankton.  We suggest going over the different groups prior to having students color or look under the microscope.

Aquatic Life

Identify the following by making a color legend 

Mosquito pupa


Phantom midge 






Worm (leech)


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