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Mayfly Stages

Published by Dave Kile [dkile] on 03/07/2010 (4936 reads)
Mayfly Stages of Life
By Dave Kile

© 2006 PaFlyFish.com



A mayfly hatch is the grand finale in the year long seasonal play that returns annually for trout and anglers. This show begins the previous season with mature female mayflies, called spinners, laying their eggs on the surface of the water. The eggs shortly hatch into small larvae and quickly change to nymphs.

The nymph phase of the mayfly is the longest and will last just about one year. During this time the nymph will grow and molt regularly. Molting is when the mayfly breaks out of its old skin and a larger one is exposed underneath to protect it during the next growth cycle. A mayfly will molt many times during the several phases of its life.

The emergence stage can be a quick and dangerous time for these transitional nymphs. Trout can find and aggressively feed on these insects that normally may be hiding or burrowing at the bottom of a stream. Once the emerger swims to the surface film these nymphs molt their skins and expose there wings.

The cloudy, grayish wings they emerge with give them there name: dun. The duns sit on top of the water and prepare its wings for flight. Once the dun escapes the water, it will head for the trees for several days.

While maturation occurs during this stage a dun may molt several more times until it becomes a spinner. As spinners, male and female mayflies will seek each other out to mate. The females will quickly lay her eggs back at the water starting the cycle over again.
The cycle ends when the dead and dying mayflies drop to the stream. The spent wing spinner is the one final opportunity for tout to feed on the last stage of this great yearlong production provided by the mayfly.

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