Mayflies are fly fisherman’s best friend. They represent a major food source to trout in many of the aquatic insects lifecycle from the nymph to the adult. Mayflies are an ancient aquatic insect with over 3,000 species still existing all over the globe. Mayflies need healthy clean freshwater to survive.
Adult mayflies are easily recognizable as they float the surface of rivers and streams. Their telltale wing shape and position gives them away instantly because the stand upright, almost like a butterfly wings. On the water, the mayfly looks like a sailboat setting a course for exotic lands.
Mayflies come in all different sizes. They can be found in a wide range of colors as well, from black to white, these insects cover the entire spectrum. They are found on every continent except for Antarctica. The species is so varied that thirty or more different species can inhabit the same piece of water.
The mayfly is found in stagnant ponds to torrential mountain streams. They are active all months of the year, either below the surface or above. The main ingredient for mayflies is clean, fresh water.
Mayflies mate in flight during their short adult life of 2 days or less. After the mating the female releases her eggs and dies. In death the mayflies wings are no longer upright, but lay flat upon the surface of the water.
Mayfly Madness [VIDEO]
The life and times of the mayfly on the Mississippi — all twenty-four hours of it.
Mayflies are among the easiest aquatic insects to identify. Their obvious shapes set them apart from all other bugs. Especially in the adult stage of life.
- Eyes: Their eyes are literally bug eyes. When someone says bug eyes, this is exactly what comes to mind. The thin body of the mayfly help exaggerate the size of the eyes.
- Body: Made up of the thorax and the abdomen, the mayfly has a narrow soft body. The thorax is where the legs and wings attach to the body. The abdomen is segmented.
- Wings: Mayflies have two sets of wings. The main set is much larger than the second set. Some species second set of wings are quite diminutive or even absent. The wings stand straight up on the thorax and parallel to the body.
- Tail: Mayflies have two or three very thin hair-like tails. The length of the tails are usually as long or longer than the body.
Mayflies have very distinct characteristics. You can learn more mayfly facts at the links below.
- Mayfly Life Cycle: Starting from eggs to adults, this details the life cycle of the mayfly.
- Mayfly Habitat: Mayflies are found on every continent of the globe but Antarctica.
- Species of Mayflies: Nearly 3,000 different species of mayflies exist across the world.
- Mayfly Hatch: The mayfly hatch is what fly fishermen look forward to every day on the water during the summer months.
- Mayfly Swarm: Swarms of mayflies can shut down entire communities with thousands of insects hatching at once.
- Pictures of Mayflies: Great photos of mayflies.
- Mayfly Patterns: Common fly fishing patterns for both dry flies and nymphs.
- Other Insects: Other important fly fishing insects.