How long do mayfly live? The lifecycle of the mayfly is a pretty sad one as these insects do not live for a long time. Mayflies have existed for millions of years back, even down to the carboniferous period.
In this article, we will be stating important facts about this bug and explaining the different stages of growth that occur in this insect.
What Are Amazing Facts About the Mayfly?
The mayfly belongs to one of the oldest orders of insects “the Ephemeroptera” with an evolutionary history dating back around 300 million years to the late Carboniferous period.
There are around 50 species of these flies in the UK and over 2,000 Worldwide. Mayfly is a common generic term often used to describe any of these open flies and got its name from the fact that the adults originally emerged almost exclusively in the month of May.
However, due to a discrepancy of days caused by a change from the Julian to the Gregorian calendar, the mayfly emergence now spans the months of May and June.
There are three different species of mayfly in the UK, but by far the most common is the ephemera Danica found in Derbyshire.
Read more: How Long Do Flys Live?
How Long Do Mayfly Live?
Why the popular misconception? Well, the mayfly only lives for a couple of days and while this may be true for the adult stages, this is not the whole story after hatching from the egg.
The next line nymph is only just visible to the naked eye and will spend the next 2 years of its life burrowed into the riverbed, feeding on organic detritus and shedding its skin over 20 times greater over an inch in length before being ready to ascend to the surface.
Many emerging mayfly images are tightly comma Style with a body extending downward into the water. But in actual fact, the mayfly emerges flat on the surface of the water with a nympho shut left trailing on the surface behind the newly emerged fly.
The dun stage is unique in the insect world. No other order of insects has two different stages of development in adulthood upon emergence.
Duns are quite dull in color and the wings have a dormant appearance due to a covering of fine hairs to prevent the addition of water.
The dun has no function in Math Parson’s, underdeveloped sex organs. The only reason for existing is to escape predators, and they usually seek refuge on riverbanks.
Within a matter of hours, they will reach full sexual maturity and undergo final emergence from the dun skin to become glossy longer-tailed spinners like the dun before it.
The spinner has no function in mouthparts and relies solely on energy reserves stored off during the nymph stage to sustain it. With no need to feed and dwindling reserves of energy, time is of the essence for the spinners.
With what seems like preternatural timing, the spinners take to their wings same time in the late afternoon, often forming clouds among the bankside trees.
They all have one final urgent purpose to breed. Mating takes place on the wind, but often preoccupied couples can be seen making unscheduled landings.
What Happens After Copulation In the Mayfly?
For the males, the story ends here, but for the female, there is one more challenge carrying anything up to 8,000 eggs, she must return to the water.
The female spinner can be seen dancing over the water dipping down to release eggs at the water surface. Those that linger too long often end up victims of awaiting trouts.
Sometimes the fish can be so preoccupied with these spinners, they will make spectacular leaps in anticipation of a protein-rich meal.
The males may fall prey to a more charitable predator on the banks of the river while the riverkeeper (fish) on his stretch of the river captures returning females and collects their eggs.
As part of a repopulation program, the eggs are placed on a protective glass sheet suspended in the river ensuring much higher survival rates for the next generation of mayflies.
With completely depleted energy reserves the female lays spent and dying on the water. Two years in the making for what seems like just a few moments of glory, the mayfly’s life is complete.
- What other amazing facts do you have about the mayfly?
- For you, how long do mayfly live?
- What do you think about the lifecycle of mayfly?
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