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The mayfly is an insect that hangs around water. There are over 3000 species. They are sometimes mistaken for the dragonfly or the damselfly. Depending upon the species, they can live from 30 minutes to one or two days, and during that time, they do not eat. The primary purpose of the adult mayfly is reproduction, and possibly a meal for another insect.
The eggs hatch into nymphs within a minute of being laid, or up to a year or more, depending upon the temperature of the water, and swim away looking similar to a miniature tadpole. The adult female lays approximately 400 to 3,000 eggs and can die right on the spot where she laid the eggs. The nymphs, or larvae, develop by going through several stages of development in the span of a year or more depending upon the species. They slowly mature under water. Finally, they swim to the top of the water, climb onto a semi-dry rock, plant, etc., where they molt into a young mayfly with wings. But, they’re not done. They molt, yet again, into the final adult stage. From egg to final adult is about one year.
Mayfly nymphs are found in fairly unpolluted waters, as they are very sensitive to pollutants.