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Giant Stonefly (Pteronarcys species)

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

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The Giant Stonefly is a delicate and useful insect for anglers and biologists alike.

Updated: 01/03/2022; Authored By Staff Writer; Content ©www.InsectIdentification.org
Giant Stoneflies are a narrow-bodied insect that are identifiable by their highly veined wings. These wings are very long and crossover the body when folded at rest, covering the Stonefly's whole body, and even extending out beyond it. Their eyes are found on either side of the head. Giant Stoneflies have long, thin antennae protruding out in front of their eyes. Bodies may appear to be black, brown or gray. An orange or red color may appear on or around the neck collar (thorax).

Eggs are laid and hatching takes place in water, where young Giant Stoneflies spend the earliest phases of life. Offspring are called naiads, and these juveniles are incredibly sensitive to pollution, dying off quickly in unclean waters. Because of this clear response to dirty water, biologists and anglers use the presence of adult Giant Stoneflies as a mark, or indicator, of clean water in that area. Naiads look more like crayfish or small crustaceans than winged insects. Only the naiads eat, and they prefer to feed on algae and other plant material underwater. They in turn are eaten by frogs and fish. Adult Giant Stoneflies do not eat at all. Though they fly, they are often spotted on the ground or resting on nearby rocks or branches. Birds and spiders prey on them.

Look for Giant Stoneflies in areas near freshwater streams, creeks, or rivers. They, in general, can be attracted to artificial light after sunset in the late spring and early summer months of the year.©InsectIdentification.org

Known Diet of the Giant-Stonefly

algae; plant material
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General Characteristics

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

Taxonomic Hierarchy

Species Breakdown
Kingdom: Animalia
  Phylum: Arthropoda
    Class: Insecta
      Order: Plecoptera
        Family: Pteronarcidae
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          Genus: Pteronarcys
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            Species: species

Identifying Information

Size, Colors, Features
Scientific Name: Pteronarcys species
Other Name(s): Salmonfly
Category: Stonefly
Size (Adult; Length): 40mm to 84mm (1.57" to 3.30")
Colorwheel Graphic Colors: black; brown; gray
Descriptors: veins; flying; helpful

Relative Size Comparison

Typical Size Between 40mm (1.6in) and 84mm (3.3in)
Lo: 40mm
Md: 62mm
Hi: 84mm

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