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Green Drake Mayfly Andy
Mayfly 450h DSCF2621

Green Drake Mayfly (Ephemera Danica)

Mayflies are a very ancient group of insects with fossils found dating back over 300 million years. Mayflies spend up to 2 years as an aquatic nymph, feeding on water plants and algae in streams and lakes. Between May and July on a sunny day the nymphs emerge from the water and break out of their nymphal skin to expand their wings. Many will hatch the same day from one location as the adults have very short lives, usually living for only one day. What I have always found fascinating about mayflies is they have two adult stages unlike other insects. Shortly after hatching the immature adult mayfly which does not feed seek shelter in the undergrowth where they moult again into a larger adult Mayfly. After this they fly back to the water where on a warm summers day swarms of males can be seen performing a mating dance. After mating the males die, and the females lay their eggs in the water before dying often in the water.

Adult mayflies are an important food source for many other species that feed on them like fish. I always enjoy watching trout jumping out of the water snatching the mayflies in flight. Some birds even time their breeding season to coincide with the hatching of mayflies to feed their chicks.

Mayflies nymphs absorb oxygen from the water through their gills and are known as a good indicator of the quality of the rivers from which they breed.