Fall 2014 SMTP Interesting Finds: Stoneflies (Order: Plecoptera)

Happy New Year from everyone here at BIO!

Brrrrrr it’s getting cold outside, and what better way to kick off the year than with an insect order which contains a few species who genuinely enjoy the cold (to an extent!).  Meet the stoneflies!

Stonefly (Leuctra sp.)
Stonefly (Leuctra sp.)

The Plecoptera are an order of insects, commonly known as stoneflies. There are approximately 3,500 species found worldwide, except in Antarctica. Almost all species of stoneflies develop as nymphs in clean, moving water and are intolerant of water pollution. Their presence in a stream or still water is therefore a good indicator of excellent water quality. Once hatched from the eggs, stonefly nymphs usually complete their development within a year, but many take longer. Some larger species may spend two to three years as nymphs before crawling out of the water as adults.

Flickr Creative Commons CC Kris & Fred
Taeniopteryx – Winter Stonefly by Kris & Fred

Once they emerge from the water, adult stoneflies will usually spend their lives within close proximity to the water’s edge. Unlike the outstretched wings of dragonflies and damselflies, stoneflies fold their wings neatly against their backs when at rest and are generally not strong fliers.  The name “Plecoptera” literally means “braided-wings”, from the Ancient Greek plekein (“to braid”) and pteryx (“wing”). This refers to their complex pleated, or fanlike broad hind wings.

Congratulations to Carleton North High School for collecting the only species of stonefly found during the Fall 2014 School Malaise Trap Program!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *