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Common Stonefly (Paragnetina media)

Detailing the physical features, habits, territorial reach and other identifying qualities of the Common Stonefly

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Image Credit: Aaron J. from Oromocto, NB
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Long, slender Common Stonefly adults are often found near streams where they once swam, avoiding trout and other hungry fish.

Updated: 06/21/2021; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
The Common Stonefly is a member of the Perlidae family. Together with Caddisflies and Mayflies, the presence of Stoneflies suggests clean streams and water. The adult looks different from the juvenile. Adult Common Stoneflies are a dark brown or olive-brown color. The wings overlap each other over the body and are covered in dark veins. The base of the antennae is yellow as is the lower part of the head. Between the 'neck' and the wings are two more yellow spots (one near each shoulder). A look at the body under the wings reveals two tails that are generally covered by the wings from overhead.

Offspring are called naiads and they look more like tiny crustaceans than insects. Females lay eggs on or just above the water's surface and die soon after, sometimes on the water. The hatched naiads spend their life underwater feeding and growing. Once they are ready to become adults, they head to land and metamorphose into winged adults, leaving their empty exoskeletons behind. Because naiads of Stoneflies are eaten by trout, anglers tend to monitor the presence and life stage of a local population of Stoneflies to better time their fishing expeditions. The area where many naiads leave the water can be a popular feeding spot for trout, where the fish feed on naiads that swim poorly. These emergence sites are therefore popular fishing holes for anglers. Synthetic replicas of the naiads can serve as bait.

Common Stoneflies are most active in the summer and may be more visible in the western provinces and states during the day. Eastern populations may be more active at night.©InsectIdentification.org

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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
Flying insect icon

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Plecoptera
        Family: Perlidae
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          Genus: Paragnetina
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            Species: media

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Paragnetina media
Other Name(s): Embossed Stonefly
Category: Stonefly
Size (Adult; Length): 20mm to 60mm (0.78" to 2.36")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: brown, yellow, orange, black, white
Descriptors: overlap wings, yellow collar, white specks, flying, aquatic, crustacean, fishing, naiad

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 20mm (0.8in) and 60mm (2.4in)
Lo: 20mm
Md: 40mm
Hi: 60mm

Territorial Map*

U.S., Canada, and Mexico
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Prince Edward Is.  
* MAP NOTES: The territorial heat map above showcases (in red) the states and territories of North America where the Common Stonefly may be found (but is not limited to). This sort of data is useful when attempting to see concentrations of particular species across the continent as well as revealing possible migratory patterns over a species' given lifespan. Some insects are naturally confined by environment, weather, mating habits, food resources and the like while others see widespread expansion across most, or all, of North America. States/Territories shown above are a general indicator of areas inhabited by the Common Stonefly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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