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Giant Mayfly (Hexagenia limbata)


Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Giant Mayfly.

 Updated: 12/30/2014; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ¬©www.InsectIdentification.org




Swarms of Giant Mayflies occur in the summer and are a sign of the season in the eastern part of the continent.



Giant Mayflies are common in the Eastern United States and can appear in large quantities in the summer months. They represent one of the largest Mayfly type insects in North America and dwell in, and around, water sources. Adult Giant Mayflies can be identified by their twin filament tails, darkened wings and yellow and brown patterned coloring on their bodies. They have very short life spans at this stage of life, mere days, and focus all their energy on reproduction before dying.

Females lay their eggs in the water, which is easier for the larvae burrow into. The larvae hide in the sediment and sand. Giant Mayfly larvae are yellow to brown and black. They have an identifiable three-pronged tail and slightly resemble their adult counterparts, looking more like a cross between the adult and a mini-lobster. They eat underwater plant material and algae. They are eaten by fish and when they mature into the subimago phase (not quite adults), they are used by anglers for fishing.




Taxonomic Hierarchy
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Ephemeroptera
        Family: Ephemeridae
          Genus: Hexagenia
            Species: limbata
Identifying Information
Scientific Name: Hexagenia limbata
Other Name(s): Mayfly; Golden Mayfly; Green Bay Fly; Big Michigan Mayfly; Great Leadwing Drake
Category: Mayfly
Size (Adult; Length): 18mm to 30mm (0.70in to 1.17in)
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: yellow, brown
Descriptors: flying
Territorial Map
Alaska  
Hawaii  
Prince Edward Is.  
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Territorial Reach (A-to-Z)
Alabama
Alaska
Arizona
Arkansas
California
Colorado
Connecticut
Delware
Florida
Georgia
Hawaii
Idaho
Illinois
Indiana
Iowa
Kansas
Kentucky
Louisiana
Maine
Maryland
Massachusetts
Michigan
Minnesota
Mississippi
Missouri
Montana
Nebraska
Nevada
New Hampshire
New Jersey
New Mexico
New York
North Carolina
North Dakota
Ohio
Oklahoma
Oregon
Pennsylvania
Rhode Island
South Carolina
South Dakota
Tennessee
Texas
Utah
Vermont
Virginia
Washington
West Virginia
Wisconsin
Wyoming
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Alberta
British Columbia
Manitoba
New Brunswick
Newfoundland and Labrador
Nova Scotia
Ontario
Prince Edward Island
Quebec
Saskatchewan
Mexican National Flag Graphic
Mexico
Note: An insect's reach is not limited by lines drawn on a map and therefore species may appear in areas, regions and/or states beyond those listed above as they are driven by environmental factors (such as climate change), available food supplies and mating patterns. Grayed-out selections indicate that the subject in question has not been reported in that particular territory. U.S. states and Canadian provinces / territories are clickable to their respective bug listings.