What are these?!
Location: South Carolina
June 19, 2011 2:42 pm
My daughter and I found these on our back porch in SC in the summertime. We found three yellow ones and one brown one…
All of your photos are of Mayflies in the order Ephemeroptera, and we believe they are Giant Mayflies, or Golden Mayflies, or Burrowing Mayflies in the genus Hexagenia, based on images posted to BugGuide. BugGuide notes: “Very large mayflies. Usually pale golden yellow at least when freshly emerged, i.e., subimago. Several species dark with bold striped pattern as mature imagos. Wings not uniformly dark, as are some other genera of this family. Pale brown band across abdomen. Antennae, legs, and tails yellow. (Photographs show either pale golden mayflies–probably subimagos, or very dark individuals, full imagoes?)” Mayflies are unique among insects in that they molt twice as adults. Daniel Marlos in his book, The Curious World of Bugs, writes: “Shortly after emerging from the water in preparation for becoming an adult, the naiad, or aquatic nymph, molts and assumes its winged form. This is known as the subimago because within a few hours, it will molt again, shedding even the covering of its wings, at which point it becomes a full adult, or imago.” We are inclined to believe that your yellow individuals are sumimagos, and the brown individual is an imago or mature adult.