• Wildlife Friendly Otley

COMMON MAYFLY


I spotted a Mayfly over the riverbank, near the confluence of the Wharfe and the Washburn. Their up-and-down flight pattern is quite distinctive, as is their body shape. Their life structure is famously unusual, with the nymph living sometimes for years in the water, then the adult only surviving for hours. There are many references to this brevity in literature. Mayflies are in the same ancient family as dragonflies and damselflies, and it’s believed they have the characteristics of the first flying insects: long tails and wings that don’t fold flat over their abdomen. They are definitely unique in the insect world in having a pre-adult stage with wings, that then undergoes a further moult. Many fish love to eat them, but their relatively high protein content means they are eaten by people too in several cultures.

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