Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Giant Mayfly (Hexagenia limbala)

Giant Mayfly (Hexagenia limbala)
I visited Tamarac pack in Lakeville, Massachusetts to see if any new species of dragonflies and damselflies were present.  What I found, that there was a hatch of mayflies, which let themselves to be photographed.

Fish love to eat mayflies and fly fisherman create lures that look like mayflies.  Mayflies belong to the order Ephemeroptera, which means shot-lived and winged.  Most mayfly species go through a one-year cycle of eggs which hatch into larvae or nymphs.  The nymphs then hatch into sub-adults or sub-imagos , which then molt into adults.

Sub-imago Molt
 Mayflies are unique because they are the only group of insects that molt after they have wings.  The sub-adult and adult mayflies live only a few hours to a few days.  They do not feed in their digestive tracts of filled with air that help them float on water.

Sub-adult and adult mayflies have delicate bodies and wings. Their veined wings are held vertically above the body when at rest, and are almost transparent in the adult stage.  Sub-adults have more opaque wing color. Adults have 2 or 3 long tails, and long fore legs. Eyes are large and well developed, especially in the males.

Adult Giant Mayflies can be identified by their twin filament tails , darkened wings and yellow and brown patterned coloring on their bodies.,
Giant Mayfly (Hexagenia limbala)  Note the Twin Filament Tail

Giant Mayflies are common in the Eastern United Stales and can appear in large quantities in the summer months_ They represent one of the largest Mayfly type insects in North America and dwell in and around water sources .
Giant Mayfly (Hexagenia limbala)  Note the Long Front Legs