The mayfly is the only winged insect that molts its wings. There
is a winged, sexually immature subimago stage that lasts for a few
hours before molting to the adult stage. The adult mayfly only
lives for a few hours to a few days. They do not feed during this
time, and instead just partake in massive mating swarms that have been
known to be so large and block vision so much that they can cause
accidents on highways. They are attracted to lights and you can
find them under them by the hundreds in late spring/early summer.
Females lay eggs in clear, clean, well-oxygenated streams, and nymphs
can be used as indicators of pollution by their absence.
Availability: These need to be
ordered and will be available after spring break.
Housing: These are
aquatic nymphs so you will need to have an aquarium with a
bubbler. They like to cling to rocks and burrow in the soil, so
you should have a few inches of sand, mud, and stones on the bottom of
the tank, with some real or plastic aquatic plants for them to cling
to. You can have a large rock at one end of the tank above the
waterline, that nymphs can crawl onto when ready to molt. You can
move the adults to a plastic or glass jar after they have molted if you
want to, but if there is plenty of room at the top of your aquarium,
you do not have to. You should keep a lid on your aquarium at
this stage though.
Food: Nymphs will eat algae,
detritus, or decaying vegetable matter. You can drop some lettuce
into their aquarium that is a few days old and they should be able to
feed on that. Adults do not feed at all. You can provide
them with a cotton ball soaked in water.