Insects & other Arthropods David A Kendall   BSc PhD
Order Ephemeroptera (Mayflies)
(Ephemero-ptera, from Greek ephemeros = living a day, pteron = wing)
Class: Insecta

Soft-bodied insects with large eyes, very short antennae and atrophied mouthparts. Wings membranous with many veins, hind pair small or even absent. Wings held vertically upwards when at rest. Front legs of males are often very long and used to hold the female during mating. Abdomen terminated by a pair of very long, many-segmented, thread-like cerci, sometimes with a third median tail filament. Mayflies are unique among insects in moulting after reaching the adult winged state. The first winged stage is called the sub-imago and has a dull appearance due to a covering of very fine hairs. This outer skin is shed within a few hours of emergence, revealing the mature adult, recognisable by its shiny appearance and full colouration. Adult life is short and many species live for less than a day in the adult stage; others may live for up to a week. Simple metamorphosis, with over 20 nymphal moults before the adult stage in some species. The nymphs are aquatic, living in clear, fresh moving or still water. They have three tail filaments and several pairs of plate-like tracheal gills that grow out from the sides of the abdomen. These gills are used for breathing, by absorbing oxygen directly from the water. About 2,100 species have been described worldwide, of which about 50 occur in the British Isles.

Ephemera danica
Ephemera danica - a Mayfly
b. 15-20 mm (Photo: C. Macadam)
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