photo by Andrew McKinlay CC BY-NC
Giant Mayfly

Shadfly, Fishfly

Mayflies are small, soft-bodied insects with large triangular forewings and a long, thin body (up to 1 in) ending in 2 or 3 hairlike tails. They can be found near streams, rivers, ponds, and lakes across North America.

Mayfly nymphs emerge from eggs and then go through two adult stages. The mature adults live only 1-2 days and spend their entire adult life in flight looking for a mate. You may see large swarms of males performing a mating dance over the surface of the water at dawn or dusk. Mayflies will die as soon as they have mated and laid eggs.

Did you know? Nymphs feed on algae and organic detritus and play an important role in cleaning streams. Mayflies are also a valuable food for fish, birds, spiders, and other insects.

See Also: Damselfly, Dragonfly