Mystery Bug!
Tue, Mar 17, 2009 at 4:38 AM
A friend of mine who lives in Temecula, CA, is wondering what sort of bug landed near his computer, one early morning in June of 08.
I have been searching the internet trying to figure out what it might be, but am alas, at a loss. However, I am no insect expert at all, so it may be something simple….. Can you shed some light on this?
Thank you!
Temecula, CA



Dear mystery2me,
Anyone who uses the word alas in a letter is a peach for us.  Despite its appearance in June, this is a Mayfly, an insect in the order Ephemeroptera.  We are not very good at identifying the specific species of Mayflies, so we hope this general identification will suffice.  This may be a Small Minnow Mayfly in the genus Callibaetis as evidenced by images on BugGuide.  Mayflies often appear in great numbers near bodies of water when the aquatic nymphs mature into adults and swarm in their annual nuptial flight.

2 Responses to Mayfly

  1. stonehuntr says:

    I never see any reference to mayflies as the greatest natural bait nature ever made, but they are. During the 1950’s through 70’s our family went almost every weekend in summer to our cabin on Pickwick Lake. My absolute FAVORITE time was when the mayflies swarmed in June and July: we loved to fly fish (not trout fly fishing, but bass and bream fly fishing with floating lines and flies), and you could anchor your boat where there were a lot of flies and you were SURE to catch your limit during the brief sunrise or sunset swarms. It was thrilling! Every time your fly hit the water you would get a strike! The water would be churning with fish going after the flies that fell in the water. The action only lasted a few minutes, but it was non-stop during that time.

    USING the mayflies as bait was my “invention.” After evening swarms, I would find the flies in spider webs the next day on our dock. I started using them to bait my hook to catch bream (my favorite fish as a child because they are plentiful and easy to catch). My family saw that I caught not only bream, but striped bass and anything else that came along. We eventually set up lights on the outside of the dock to attract the flies. This would attract the fish, so at night we could sit in our boathouse and catch our limit of striped bass. We developed a whole special rig of “striper poles” which were short (because of the rafters in the boathouse) and had light floats because the mayflies are easily stripped from the hook so you need to know as soon as the fish bumps the bait.

    Mayflies are beautiful, gentle creatures and have provided me with some of the most wonderful memories of my life: there is nothing like being in a boat on the lake before sunrise with the fog rolling along the water and no sound but the birds and the occasional fish striking at a hapless bug on the surface. This was repeated countless times with my father – conversation breaking the silence only rarely with a comment about something taking place around us.

    You could time the sunrise by the activity of the mayflies (even when there were clouds or rain): the closer it got to sunrise, the more flies there were and the farther out from shore they came (they spent the nights on tree limbs, grasses, twigs, anything that would hold them, and the tree limbs would be black and bent down by the weight of them!)

    Then all at once the sun would peek over the eastern hills and the air would suddenly be FILLED with mayflies – the sky would actually be brown-colored there were so many. They would be all around us and on us – it was wonderful!

    And the fish would go crazy. Where we had been fishing and getting absolutely no strikes, suddenly there was a strike with every cast or every move of the fly across the water: the fish know when the flies swarm and they do not bother to come to feed until that time. (And at one time we had some artificial mayflies that we tried, but they didn’t work unless there was a mayfly hatch about!)

    So if you are a live-bait fisherman, try mayflies the next time there is a swarm: I guarantee you will get a bite!

  2. bugman says:

    Dear Stonehuntr,
    Thanks so much for the wonderful nostalgic account of your childhood experiences with Mayflies. If you have never seen the film “A River Runs Through It” with Brad Pitt, you may enjoy the swarming Mayflies lovlily backlit while Brad is fly-casting.

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