Sunday, June 29, 2008

Mayflies at the sidedoor

I watched this one get caught in a spider web. I hope it had already mated.

This one got caught in a fragment of an old spider web.

Mayflies appeared today on the side of the house. Some years they show up in fairly large numbers, I only noticed a few today. Mayflies (by which I mean all species in Ephemeroptera) are known for only living a very short time, this is somewhat misleading as they live in an aquatic nymph stage for a year. Here is the Wikipedia breakdown:
Mayflies are insects which belong to the Order Ephemeroptera (from the Greek ephemerospteron = "wing", referring to the short life span of adults). They have been placed into an ancient group of insects termed the Paleoptera, which also contains the dragonflies and damselflies. They are aquatic insects whose immature stage (called naiad or, colloquially, nymph) usually lasts one year in fresh water. The adults are short-lived, from a few hours to a few days depending on the species. About 2,500 species are known worldwide, including about 630 species in North America. Common names for mayflies include "dayfly", "shadfly", "Green Bay Flies", "Canadian soldier", and "fishfly."

...The lifespan of an adult mayfly can vary from just 30 minutes to one day depending on the species. The primary function of the adult is reproduction; the mouthparts are vestigial, and the digestive system is filled with air..
The strangest thing about Mayflies is that they are the only order of insects that moult after they have developed functioning wings. The stage is called the subimago (the final moult is called the imago), and may last only a matter of hours. Cool, huh?

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