The Poignant Last Dance of the Mayflies
The river rises, flows over its banks and carries us all away like mayflies floating downstream. They stare at the sun, then all at once there is nothing.
Utanapishtiu, The Epic of Gilgamesh - a legend from ancient Babylon and Akkad.
There are no two ways about it the Mayflies life is short, lasting from 30 minutes to one day, very occasionally two days. It often occurs that an entire population of mayflies hatch together during a couple of days around the end of May or beginning of June. Their primary function is reproduction, but as their journey begins and they emerge from the rivers and streams they face dangerous hazards from hungry fish such as trout, ducks, and birds who are on the look out for insects to feed their fledglings.
Before becoming Mayflies they live as nymphs in the riverbeds, hiding under rocks in the sediment and feeding on algae. The nymph stage can last for several years during which time it will shed its body skin more than 20 times whilst maturing and developing.
We have both seen the Mayflies dance, just once, when we were visiting the Highlands of Scotland during one summer in June. We had finished our evening meal and were taking a stroll along the river bank following a warm June day. It was twilight, a deep orange sun was sinking rapidly behind tall trees on the horizon. We were admiring the River Dulnain in Carrbridge, at a spot where it is crossed by an ancient packhorse bridge.
This repeat post came about as a result of a post written by David in which he mentions Mayflies, and the perils that they now face as a result of pollution and our changing climate.