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Lateral view of a Male Baetis (Baetidae) (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun from Mystery Creek #43 in New York
Blue-winged Olives
Baetis

Tiny Baetis mayflies are perhaps the most commonly encountered and imitated by anglers on all American trout streams due to their great abundance, widespread distribution, and trout-friendly emergence habits.

Dorsal view of a Skwala (Perlodidae) (Large Springfly) Stonefly Nymph from the Yakima River in Washington
This Skwala nymph still has a couple months left to go before hatching, but it's still a good representative of its species, which was extremely abundant in my sample for a stonefly of this size. It's obvious why the Yakima is known for its Skwala hatch.
27" brown trout, my largest ever. It was the sub-dominant fish in its pool. After this, I hooked the bigger one, but I couldn't land it.
Troutnut is a project started in 2003 by salmonid ecologist Jason "Troutnut" Neuswanger to help anglers and fly tyers unabashedly embrace the entomological side of the sport. Learn more about Troutnut or support the project for an enhanced experience here.

Identification: Key to Orders of Aquatic Insect Nymphs, Couplet 4

Identification: Key to Orders of Aquatic Insect Nymphs, Couplet 4

Option 1Option 2
Tarsi almost always with one claw Tarsi with 2 claws
Usually 3 tails, but sometimes 2 Always 2 tails
Plate-like, filamentous, or feathery gills located on sides of abdomen, often present on most middle abdominal segments


Finger-like or feathery gills present, but sometimes inconspicuous at base of mouthparts, head, legs, first few abdominal segments, or last abdominal segment

Figure from this Peltoperla nymph.
5 Example Specimens
5 Example Specimens
Ephemeroptera

Continue to the Key to Families of Mayfly Nymphs

Plecoptera
The current couplet is highlighted with darker colors and a icon, and couplets leading to this point have a icon.
Leads to Couplet 2:
  • Chewing mouthparts, with mandibles distinct
Couplet 2
Leads to Hemiptera:
  • Sucking mouthparts, united in a jointed beak with mandibles concealed
Leads to Orthoptera:
  • Hind legs suitable for jumping, with hind femora greatly enlarged
  • Abdomen with short tails
  • Found in moist places and only temporarily in water
Leads to Couplet 3:
  • Hind legs suited for crawling, with hind femora similar in size to front and middle femora, not greatly enlarged
  • Abdomen with or without conspicuous tails
  • Usually submerged and truly aquatic
Couplet 3
Leads to Couplet 5:
  • Labium (lower lip) mask-like, extendable into a scoop-like structure longer than head
Couplet 5
Leads to Couplet 4:
  • Labium normal, smaller than head, not large and mask-like
Couplet 4
Couplet 4

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Couplet 4 (You are here)
Leads to Ephemeroptera:
  • Tarsi almost always with one claw
  • Usually 3 tails, but sometimes 2
  • Plate-like, filamentous, or feathery gills located on sides of abdomen, often present on most middle abdominal segments
Leads to Plecoptera:
  • Tarsi with 2 claws
  • Always 2 tails
  • Finger-like or feathery gills present, but sometimes inconspicuous at base of mouthparts, head, legs, first few abdominal segments, or last abdominal segment
Leads to Odonata-Zygoptera:
  • Body slender, with head wider than thorax and abdomen
  • 3 long, caudal tracheal gills at the tip of the abdomen resemble paddle-like tails
Leads to Odonata-Anisoptera:
  • Body stout, with head usually narrower than thorax and abdomen
  • 5 short, stiff, pointed appendages at the tip of the abdomen

Start a Discussion of this Couplet

References

Orders excluded
These orders of Insecta are not included in this key: Trichoptera, Diptera, Coleoptera, Megaloptera, Lepidoptera, Hymenoptera, Neuroptera, Psocodea
Description of this key
This key only covers insect orders whose juvenile stages are typically referred to as nymphs. Invertebrates that have larvae instead are not included.
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