TOWNSEND -- Nothing in the stream will bite, Chris Picone told the aspiring bug hunters.
The promise was soon broken. The Fitchburg State University professor quickly pulled his hand away after he was nipped by a dobsonfly larva snagged in a net as he demonstrated catching techniques.
The unexpected pinch did not discourage the budding scientists.
Families carrying nets, shovels and buckets arrived at Damon Pond all set to get a little wet on the bug hunt, officially called "Stream Ecology," a program run by the Friends of Willard Brook on Sept. 15.
"Like most of our programs, the goal is to allow people to experience first-hand the wonders of the natural world," said Emily Norton, chairman of the FOWB.
"I think we did that big time," she said.
"Everybody's got a job," Picone said. The 28 participants worked in teams to capture the critters hiding underneath rocks in the stream.
One team member held a net, called a siene, while others brushed debris off rocks and scuffled around in the stream bed to dislodge whatever might be there.
"They'll get carried up into the nets," Picone said.
Other team members manned the collecting trays where the catch would be sorted and identified.
"Let's get as many bugs as possible," Picone said as people waded into the stream to begin their hunt.
The adults looked just as enthusiastic as their children.
"Certainly mucking around in the water and finding all sorts of critters is something that children find fascinating but I think adults also do," Norton said.
Like most FOWB programs, the afternoon event was run by volunteers and free for the participants.
"Chris (Picone) does this free," she said.
Norton has been on the board for the last nine years and said she will resign as chairman and from the board Jan. 1.
"I'm not going to be doing the newsletter, the scheduling," the retired teacher said.
"It's time someone else picks up the ball. We need fresh ideas."
Norton's departure from the organization's board will mean changes.
"I'm leaving the monthly meeting a little early so the board can figure (out what to do)" Norton said.
"There is the potential of the Friends of Willard Brook folding. They're trying not to have that happen."
She is in the process of planning October events. One of the highlights will be the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the opening of the Nashua River Rail Trail Oct. 20.
Hikes and cranberry picking are scheduled on Sundays in October and November because of deer hunting season.
Hunting is not allowed on Sunday in Massachusetts but park users should still be cautious, Norton said. The land is close to New Hampshire, where there is no Sunday ban.
Events will be posted at www.willardbrook.org.