Their incredible emergence from lakes and rivers in mass is what famed the mayfly. Despite the name, these insects are not confined to the month of May that is in fact a myth. Instead some of the forty-six British species in fact emerge in the spring, others in summer and even autumn.
The Life Cycle of Mayflies
Mayflies develop as nymphs in freshwater. Some need calm, still water such as ponds whereas others need the running waters so therefore streams and rivers. Their habitat consists of stones, or on plants in the water, feeding off algae and other micro-organisms. These slender nine legged creatures have three tales on the tip of their abdomen acting as gills.
When nymphs are fully grown (depending on the species this could take months or even years) the dorsal surface of the nymph splits open and the pre-adult mayfly emerges. As this is synchronised with the species, hundreds and in some instances thousands of these individuals appear at once.
The pre adult mayfly then waits for its wings to fully expand and dry off before it flies off to find nearby vegetation. Here, it once again malts and then becomes a winged adult.
When resting the mayflies two sets of wings are held upright above the body, giving them their alternate name ‘up winged flies’. The male adults congregate and fly upwards in a narrow column of air and then drifting back down again. This attracts the females and then they mate. Later, the female mayflies return to water and lay their eggs and so the cycle continues.
There are many different types of flies and mayflies are just one of them, but there are many more
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