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Fishfly (Chauliodes pectinicornis)

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

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A Fishfly doesn't eat fish, but it makes a feast out of the small aquatic insects and plant matter that are found in the same habitat.

Updated: 01/03/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Fishflies are part of the Alderfly and Dobsonfly group of winged insects. They are generally noticed for their large size, dark color, and seemingly uncoordinated approach to flight. They have jaws (mandibles) that have saw-like teeth, and long feathery antennae. Their wings are as long as, or longer than, their bodies, and fold tightly over each other when closed. Veins cover the transparent wings as well as splotches of coloration.

Males use their jaws to fight over females. Females lay hundreds of fertilized eggs above the water on low-hanging branches or plants. Larvae hatch and drop into the water. They are usually found near underwater vegetation that is close to moving water, while adults can be found resting on land. Activity is mostly seen at night during the late spring and throughout the summer. Adult Fishflies pull aquatic insects like the naiads of dragonflies and larvae of water beetles out of the water to eat them. They also eat worms, small bivalves like clams and mussels, and algae. Adults are very drawn to lights at night.©InsectIdentification.org

Known Diet of the Fishfly

insects (larva only)
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General Characteristics

Capability, Shape, Texture/Pattern, Benefits, Dangers
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Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Megaloptera
        Family: Corydalidae
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          Genus: Chauliodes
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            Species: pectinicornis

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Chauliodes pectinicornis
Other Name(s): Summer Fishfly
Category: Alderfly or Dobsonfly
Size (Adult; Length): 30mm to 50mm (1.18" to 1.96")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; gray; brown
Descriptors: feathery; large; antennae; flying; jaws

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 30mm (1.2in) and 50mm (2.0in)
Lo: 30mm
Md: 40mm
Hi: 50mm

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 Fishfly 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 Fishfly. Insects generally go where they please, typically driven by diet, environmental changes, and / or mating habits.
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