I heard there was a mayfly hatch the other night in the McGregor, IA area. It was a pretty good hatch - feet of massed mayflies hanging from the gas station canopy - which grosses out most folks. I'll admit that I wouldn't pull in to fuel up just then, I mean, if I had a choice. When examined any other time, mayflies are neat creatures, and mass 'hatches' (larval form > adult form isn't exactly hatching) on the upper Mississippi are quite the phenomenon - often visible on radar.
There are many many species of mayfly (Ephemeroptera) - some call them shadflies - that live, in their larval form, in all types of freshwater aquatic habitat from cold, rocky, and fast running, to warm, muddy, and slow moving, and will emerge as adults at various times throughout the year. All are sensitive to pollution. The mayflies responsible for these mass events belong to the genus Hexagenia and are adapted to the latter conditions. As gross as it is, it's a sign of a healthy (-er) river!
This little guy (I believe it's a male, based on the size and orientation of it's eyes - large and pointed up for searching out females in a swarm) was photographed about a month ago hanging out by itself. Unfortunately, I don't know where to start when identifying adults, I'm much better with the aquatic larval forms.
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