Waterbug census

Children looking at waterbug samples

Waterbugs let us know how healthy our water is, and you can too. By joining the Waterbug Census and monitoring your local macroinvertebrates, you’ll help us check the health of our rivers and creeks.

  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) update:
    We’re continuing to practice COVIDSafe behaviours to help Victoria keep on top of the virus. Waterbug Census volunteer field activities can now resume where state health guidelines can be followed. Before starting any activity, contact your program manager for advice on program-specific safety requirements and to receive a copy of our COVID-19 Control Plan.
  • Training, workshops and events remain on hold until further notice – in the meantime, check out our ‘Expert Connections’ webinar series focusing on ecological and waterway themes.

Waterbug monitoring takes place in autumn and spring at specific sites across Melbourne. Volunteers who want to participate in this program receive free training to learn water sampling and identification skills.  

This citizen science program involves learning how to:

  1. Collect a sample of waterbugs from your local waterway
  2. Pour them into viewing trays and sort the different bugs
  3. Identify each bug type and record it on your data sheet.

Learn more about macroinvertebrates and how we monitor them, in the following video.

Data collection and use

Waterbug data is collected using the Agreed Level Taxonomy method, which ensures data quality and consistency across monitoring sites. The information supports ongoing research and helps us track waterway health — as well contributing to national biodiversity records through the Atlas of Living Australia.

Education resources

Waterbug identification guide and resources

Guide to running waterbug sessions

Meet the waterbugs (F-Year 2)

The life of waterbugs (Years 3-4)

Waterbug and platypus adaptations (Years 5-6)

Identifying waterbugs (Years 7-8)

Find out more

Identification and ecology of Australian freshwater invertebrates: Check out the interactive bug guide managed by the Centre for Freshwater Ecosystems (formerly the Murray-Darling Freshwater Research Centre)

Contact us

For more information on any of our activities or programs:

Last updated:
26 November 2020