||Varies; dull-colored body with clear wings
||1/32 of an inch to a little over 1 inch
||Found throughout U.S.
Mayflies most likely get their common name from their typical
emergence during the month of May, though they can emerge earlier
or later depending on the species and environmental conditions.
Despite their name, mayflies are not actually flies. They are
aquatic insects and are an important food source for fish and
reptiles. Their most distinguishing features are their two or three
tails that are often longer than their bodies.
Nymphs feed on microscopic algae and organic matter in the
water. Adults do not eat because they don't have functioning
mouthparts, but this isn't an issue because mayflies only live as
mature adults for a few days.
As a primarily aquatic species, mayflies spend most of their
lives developing in the water. They are common around freshwater
sources such as streams, lakes or ponds.
Adults leave the water to mate, and females will lay their eggs
while flying low over the water or in the water directly. Mayflies
are often seen as a sign of healthy water ecosystems because they
are very sensitive to pollutants.
Mayflies are nuisance pests and cannot bite or sting. They are,
however, very attracted to light, which can result in massive
swarms around buildings at night and piles of dead flies below
lights and windows in the morning. In areas that see large swarms,
mayflies could affect driving conditions and visibility.
For allergy sufferers, mayflies could be a source of seasonal
allergies. When they die, their molted skin and bodies break up and
are easily carried by the wind.