May flies, as do all the other months as you get older – but that’s not the subject for today. Today we’re talking about mayflies (known as fishflies in Canada and some adjacent U.S. states), those very primitive insects that live in streams as nymphs and whose adults don’t feed and live but a short time.
There are at least 3,000 species worldwide with a variety of lifestyles, although there are many similarities. The nymphs live in clean unpolluted water, usually in streams but some species live in lakes, where they feed on fallen leaves or algae – although a few are predators. The nymphs live on the bottom, often beneath rocks or logs, some species live there for months and others for years.
Any one species’ nymphs all rise to the surface over a short time, often only an hour or two, and molt into their winged stage – in what fishermen call a “hatch”. The newly molted adults mate, the females lay their fertilized eggs, and all die – often within a day or two. Adults emerge not just in May, but throughout the warmer months.
Mayflies are beloved by trout and those who fish for trout. Beloved by trout as food and by those who fish for trout because mayflies emerging from the water can be imitated by artificial lures.
Mayflies come in a wide variety of sizes and colors, many are beautiful and worthy of a close look –
Next time you’re near an unpolluted stream, river or lake, early or late on a warm day, take a look around and you may see a mayfly or perhaps a “hatch” of thousands.