Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Day 226 - Mystical Mayflies

Mayfly (Ephemeroptera)
Hey everyone today's Day 226 and today's post runs along the same lines as yesterday's Sawfly Post as it is another mini-beast. This one, though, looks completely different. "Like a Fairy," when it's caught in the sunlight on a warm day, says my Mum. O..K.., anyway, moving swiftly on, it is, in case you hadn't guessed, the Mayfly! We only have one photo (which you can see to the right) as they are incredibly difficult to catch with our cameras! These are lovely little insects that once I saw a Robin chase. It missed the first time, but the second time the Robin went in for the kill the fly mysteriously disappeared...

So, here are the facts:

  • There are 51 species of Mayfly in Britain. Some examples of Mayfly families are: Spiny Crawler Mayflies (about 90 species in the world) and Leptohyphidae (about 140 species of these in the world.
  • They have large compound eyes, two wings, six legs and long, slender tails.  Some have what look like streamers (called filaments), such as the one in the photo.
  • Their name is misleading as they are not only present in May but through all of the year as well.
  • Some species of Mayfly are called the Dayfly because, unbelievably, they only live for a few hours as an adult, however, a few species live for longer, weeks and, sometimes, even years!
  • They start life as an egg on a river bed and they hatch into a 'nymph' (other people obviously think they look like fairies!).
  • The Nymphs feed on vegetable matter before emerging out of the water after anything up to two long years! Adults don't feed at all and have functionless mouth-parts. 
  • The Adults fly to the river bank where they moult and then fly back to the water to perform their mating dances as they only have a number of hours to live, they must find a mate.
  • Once they have mated, the Males immediately die. The Females then lay their eggs in the water, then they die to. 
  • Mayflies are one of the oldest winged living species with fossil records dating back over 300,000,000 years! Otherwise known as 300 million years, long before the dinosaurs.
  • The Larvae and Adults are a vital source of food for many other creatures such as fish and, as we witnessed, birds.
  • Their Latin name (Ephemeroptera) means Short Lived wing. Ephemeros means short-lived and pteron means wing.
  • As they appear at the same time as the Hawthorn blooms the Hawthorn once called the May Flower.
Here are some links to some more information:

Hope you enjoyed,



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  2. Great post Zach - I love seeing Mayflies emerging around the beginning of spring and summer, they're a sure sign of the warmer weather to come! - Tasha