Stoneflies

Plecoptera

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Size

    The stonefly ranges in size from 6 to more than 60 mm (0.25 to 2.5 inches).

  • Habitat

    Adult mayflies are not strong fliers and generally stay near the stream or lake they hatched from. 

  • Diet

    Stoneflies have a varied diet, feeding on other aquatic insects and decaying plant materials.

  • Lifespan

    Adults generally only survive for a few weeks
  • Status

    Stable

Stonefly, an order of about 2,000 species of insects, have long antennae, weak, chewing mouthparts, and two pairs of membranous wings.

Appearance

Adult stoneflies have long antennae, weak, chewing mouthparts, and two pairs of membranous wings. The hindwings are generally larger and shorter than the forewings and fold like a fan when not in use. They range in size from 6 to more than 60 mm (0.25 to 2.5 inches).

Feeding

The nymph feeds on plants, decaying organic matter, and other insects. Adult stoneflies can be herbivory (mostly shredding, but also scraping, gouging, and general gathering) or predators that eat other bugs. 

Reproduction and Life Cycle

Mayflies remain in the nymphal form for one to four years, depending on species, and undergo from 12 to 36 molts before emerging and becoming terrestrial as adults.  Before becoming adults, nymphs will leave the water, attach to a fixed surface and molt one last time. The adults generally only survive for a few weeks, and emerge only during specific times of the year when resources are optimal. The female can lay up to one thousand eggs. 

Did You Know?

  • Stoneflies, along with mayflies and caddisflies, are important biotic indicators of water quality.
  • Stoneflies are subject to predation from larger invertebrate predators (e.g., hellgrammites) and fish.

Sources and Additional Information

Quick Facts

  • Species

    Native

  • Size

    The stonefly ranges in size from 6 to more than 60 mm (0.25 to 2.5 inches).

  • Habitat

    Adult mayflies are not strong fliers and generally stay near the stream or lake they hatched from. 

  • Diet

    Stoneflies have a varied diet, feeding on other aquatic insects and decaying plant materials.

  • Lifespan

    Adults generally only survive for a few weeks
  • Status

    Stable