Mayflies emerging from lake


Mayflies are famed for their short adult life. Some species have under an hour to mate and lay their eggs before they die. Their pre-adult stage, known as the subimago, may be even shorter - perhaps lasting just lasting a few minutes before they moult into their adult form. So a mayfly spends most of its life as a nymph, hidden from view under the water. Despite their short life, mayflies are a very successful order of insects. There are over 2,000 different species found everywhere except the Arctic, Antarctic and some oceanic islands.

Scientific name: Ephemeroptera

Rank: Order

Common names:

  • Dayflies,
  • Lake flies,
  • Shadflies

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The Mayflies can be found in a number of locations including: Africa, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America, South America, United Kingdom. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.

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The following habitats are found across the Mayflies distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.

Rivers and streams Rivers and streams
Rivers and streams, burns, brooks and springs – the names are varied but the flora and fauna all have to cope with the same thing: water that flows continuously in one direction. If you live here you need a way to avoid being washed downstream and ultimately into the sea.

Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web

Fossil types

Learn more about the other animals and plants that also form these fossils.

Amber Amber
Amber owes its existence to the defence mechanisms of certain kinds of tree. When the bark is punctured or infected, a sticky resin oozes out to seal the damage and sterilise the area.