Monday, March 3, 2014

mayfly ~ 03/03/14 ~ Purisima Creek

I first spotted a bright yellow blob flying above my head through a clearing in the forest.  I tried to capture it with my hands, but my best reach with hiking boots is only 6'5".  Fortunately, Ken is quite a bit taller and was fast on his feet.  He gently used his hat as a makeshift net so that I could get a picture.  He wants to know what kind of mayfly it is, but I'm afraid I'm going to disappoint.  

The thing with mayflies is that each species has a unique wing vein pattern.  I was hoping this one would be common enough to be represented online.  Nope.  The closest match I could find was an illustration done by Professor N.J. Kluge out of Saint Petersburg State University.  I've sent him an e-mail query with hopes he may be able to ID this ephemeral beauty.  We'll see if he responds.

I gotta say, this was one of the most entertaining IDs I've researched in a while.  Looking through online images, I found a lot of incredibly realistic mayfly ties and lots of people big and small proudly hugging large fish.  Haha.  In fact, the best online key I found for mayflies in North America is made by The Fisher Monk.  It works better if you have a specimen in hand.  His links don't work so well, but scrolling down shows some very useful illustrations.  It takes a bit of talent and practice to accurately draw wing venation, even with the use of modified scope projectors.  Back in the days before macro digital photography, I was an honorary adjunct professor at the Cleveland Institute of Art (the other CIA) for their Medical Illustration Program.  I gave 2 classes a year, line and form in the fall and color in the spring, using insects from the museum's collections.  The methods for illustration have changed quite a bit since then, including the use of scanners, like what The Dragonfly Woman does.

Lastly, while searching for information, I came across a couple impressive sites:
2012 Mayfly Emergence @ Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Laboratory on Flickr 

ps 03/10/14 - I heard back from N. Kluge.  He believes "this female imago belongs to the taxon Epeorus/fg2; possibly to Irondes".  I added links in the updated ID above.  This "Meet the Mountain Mayflies" article by Rick Hafele says Irondes is its own genus, but Mayfly Central @ Purdue Unviersity does not include it.  There's quite a bit of fly fishing information, and the Epeorus nymphs are called yellow quills for good reason.  I'll have to remember that fishermen call the subimago a dun and the imago a spinner.  Thank you, Dr. Kluge, for your ID help!


randomtruth said...

Well, even if you don't get the exact species, it makes a nice advert for Tilley hats. ;)

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Ha! I was wondering what kind of fancy-schmancy hat you had. Mine is a little worn-torn.

randomtruth said...

Fancy-schmancy! Guaranteed for life and the bestest hat ever. And I hate hats.

Katie (Nature ID) said...

Ta-da! Ken, Dr. Kluge replied. It's an Epeorus flatheaded. I've included a bunch of new links above, but the one you might be interested in is "Epeorus Mayflies" by Jeff Morgan