"Why I prefer the field of science over any other is this one single fact: there is no final decision, but a process of constant discovery, discussion and leaning into the evidence that shifts as well. The questions mature as the answers compete."
- Scott Jackson-Ricketts

Monday, August 16, 2010

Mayfly on the porch

One of the best ways to see some new insects is to leave the back porch light on a bit during these dog days of Summer. Here is a visitor to our porch last night in Baywood/Grayson County, VA. I believe that this is an adult mayfly, possibly a burrowing mayfly of the genus Hexagenia.
If anyone knows better please inform me. This group lives for long periods as a larva in the sediments of streams and lakes and thus the immature form is rarely seen. In contrast the adults do not feed and die after about one day, hopefully after reproducing- thus the name of the order Ephemeroptera (ephemeral life). A pretty strange life reminiscent of periodical cicadas.


1 comment:

  1. Bill,
    I suspect that this is Hexagenia limbata, according to two on-line sources, one of which is bugguide.net.
    When it comes to the life cycles of mayflies and distinguishing between different morphs within species, I suspect die hard fly fisherman are the go to source. For instance, check out this source:

    I like how specifically fisherman, the "trout nuts", have pinpointed the various hatchings as coinciding with the activity of other animals; for example:
    "...Hex hatch commences within a few minutes of the nightly start of the whippoorwills..."

    Exploring the lifecycle of these animals with a seasoned fisherman would be great fun! I know my brother, Aaron, is devoted to learning as much as he can about this specialized world, so he may be a good starting point for local sources.