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Mayflies are aquatic insects belonging to the order Ephemeroptera. This order is part of an ancient group of insects termed the Palaeoptera, which also contains dragonflies and damselflies.

Mayflies are unique as insects in having two winged adult stages. After emerging from the water they fly to the bank where they shelter on the underside of leaves or in the grass. They then moult again, leaving behind their drab ‘dun’ skin to reveal their shiny ‘spinner’ skin. Following this moult they fly back to the water and form mating swarms dancing above the surface.

Mayflies start life as an egg before hatching into a nymph. The nymphs feed on algae and other vegetable matter on the bed for up to two years in some species, before emerging from the surface of the water as an adult.

Class: Insecta
Subclass: Pterygota
Division: Palaeoptera
Superorder: Ephemeropteroidea
Order: Ephemeroptera


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