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Mayfly

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Mayflies
Scientific classification
Kingdom:Animalia
Phylum:Arthropoda
Class:Insecta
Order:Ephemeroptera
Families
Suborder Schistonota
 Superfamily Baetoidea
   Siphlonuridae[?]
   Baetidae[?]
   Oniscigastridae[?]
   Ameletopsidae[?]
   Ametropodidae[?]
 Superfamily Heptagenioidea
   Coloburiscidae[?]
   Oligoneuriidae[?]
   Isonychiidae[?]
   Heptageniidae[?]
 Superfamily Leptophlebioidea
   Leptophlebiidae[?]
 Superfamily Ephemeroidea
   Behningiidae[?]
   Potamanthidae[?]
   Euthyplociidae[?]
   Polymitarcydae[?]
   Ephemeridae[?]
   Palingeniidae[?]
Suborder Pannota
 Superfamily Ephemerelloidea
   Ephemerellidae[?]
   Leptohyphidae[?]
   Tricorythidae[?]
 Superfamily Caenoidea
   Neoephemeridae[?]
   Baetiscidae[?]
   Caenidae[?]
   Prosopistomatidae[?]

The mayflies are an order (Ephemeroptera) of insects that grow up in fresh water, and live very briefly as adults, as little as a few hours but more typically a day or two. About 2,500 species in 23 families are known.

The nymphs live on the bottom of lakes and streams, usually under rocks. Most species are vegetarian, with some types being predators. The nymph stage may last from several months to as much as a year, with a number of molts[?] along the way. Mayfly nymphs are distinctive in having external pairs of gills along the abdomen, as well as 2-3 long cerci[?] at the end, giving them a bit of a frilly appearance. In the last aquatic stage, small wings are visible, a feature unique to this order.

The adult's one purpose is to reproduce; the mouthparts are useless, and the digestive system filled with air. The wings are large and shiny, with the forewings much larger than the hind wings. The males' eyes are usually large, and the front legs long, used to grasp females and often held in front when resting. In some species, all legs aside from the males' front legs are useless, and adults' entire lives are spent in flight.

It often happens that all the mayflies in a population mature at once, and for a day or two in the springtime, mayflies will be everywhere, dancing around each other in large groups, or resting on every available surface.

Both immature and adult mayflies are an important part of the food chain, particularly for carnivorous fish like trout.

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