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  • Coffinfly - (Ephemera guttulata)

    Coffinfly - (Ephemera guttulata)

    The sensitive Coffinfly's presence indicates the health of the nearby water source: if you see them, the water is not polluted.

    Staff Writer (1/3/2014): At first glance, the Coffinfly appears physically similar to its other Mayfly relatives. A long abdomen is tipped with long tail filaments, but the Coffinfly has three "tails" while other mayflies have only two. Coffinflies are further set apart from mayflies by their dark-colored, patterned wings. Like dragonflies, coffinflies are resident to slow-moving or still water sources like ponds, creeks, small rivers and shallow lakes.

    Coffinflies originally got their name because some species were found in exhumed coffins. Their larvae burrowed deep in the ground to the body inside the coffin and aided decomposition. This particular species prefers a water environment, not earth, in its larval stage, and adults can be found in the hundreds of thousands from the spring to summer if the water source is clean and unpolluted.

    The larvae look like small versions of lobsters, or crayfish, and they live that younger phase of their lives completely under water. They burrow into the sediment or sand at the bottom of the pond or lake and feed on algae and plant matter. Because they are still developing while living in water, larvae can be indicators of a water system's cleanliness. Even moderate levels of pollution have been known to obliterate a population of larvae in a dirty body of water.

    The Coffinfly undergoes a series of molts (phase changes) as it matures to its adult form. One intermediate phase, called the subimago, includes the formation of wings and tiny hairs that start to prevent them from submerging under water. Anglers (fishermen and women) call this phase a "dun" and may use larvae, or plastic replications of them, as bait to catch certain species of fish that naturally feed on them. After another molt, they become more mature adults called imago, which are known as "spinners" to anglers.

    Adults are land-bound and do not feed. Their live span at this stage is very short, leaving only enough time to reproduce before dying. Adults are attracted to lights and may end up flying to them and dying near them by the hundreds.

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    Details of the:

    Category: Mayfly
    Common name: Coffinfly
    Scientific Name: Ephemera guttulata
    Other Names: Shad Fly, Green Drake

      Kingdom: Animalia
       Phylum: Arthropoda
        Class: Insecta
         Order: Ephemeroptera
          Family: Ephemeridae
           Genus: Ephemera
            Species: guttulata

    Size (Adult, Length): 18mm to 23mm (0.71in to 0.91in)

    Identifying Colors: white, black, gray

    Additional Descriptors: tail, flying, water

    North American Reach (Though Not Limited To*): Alabama; Connecticut; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Kentucky; Maine; Maryland; Massachusetts; Michigan; Minnesota; Mississippi; Missouri; New Hampshire; New Jersey; New York; North Carolina; Ohio; Pennsylvania; Rhode Island; South Carolina; Tennessee; Vermont; Virginia; West Virginia; Wisconsin; New Brunswick; Newfoundland and Labrador; Nova Scotia; Ontario; Prince Edward Island; Quebec

    * Keep in mind that an insect's reach is not limited by lines on a map and therefore may appear in areas/regions/states beyond those listed above.

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