Monday, 24 May 2010

The day in the life of a mayfly

Having spent the past two years as nymphs living in the river and eating algae, the hot weather has bought the mayfly out on mass.  The adult stage has no mouth parts or digestive system and only live for  short period of time - often only a day.
Having emerged from the river they find somewhere suitable for their wings to dry, like this one on a footpath:
The lucky ones find a mate.

The unlucky ones find a spiders web

Or are feed to young starlings:

Those who have successfully mated and reproduced end their one day as an adult dying in the river. Probably eaten by a fish.


  1. So that's what they they bob up and down in flight? We saw dozens about 150 yards from the river in our back garden Saturday evening. Then they all seemed to vanished at once...

  2. They do indeed bob up and down, I think it is the males trying to attract females. Although this does seem to have the side effect of attracting starlings.
    I guess when the day finishes they have either died or waiting for the next day, I think some can live for up to four days. Not bad considering they don't have a mouth.

  3. I'm still finding them in the garden and greenhouse - they look lovely close up don't they?

  4. I agree, they are really quite amazing creatures and unlike most insects you can get quite close to them