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Mayfly Central

by Paul Weamer   |  September 22nd, 2011 3

Mayfly names seem like they are always changing.  New entomological science, including the use of DNA, is finding relationships between mayflies that were previously unknown.  These new relationships sometimes lead entomologists to regroup mayflies and change their taxonomy.  Many fly fishermen are angered by these changes and to these people a Grey Fox will always be Stenonema fuscum.  Even though, technically, Grey fox no longer exist.  They have been grouped together with March Browns (formerly Stenonema vicarium, now Maccaffertium Vicarium).  I wonder if anyone ever told them?

To be completely honest, I’m not always thrilled with it either.  Especially when they briefly lumped D. Cornuta into D. Lata and then quickly backtracked, returning them to their original designation.  But both mayflies were D. lata just long enough to make one of my books incorrect by the time it was printed.

By the way, if you wonder why so many mayflies names now include the word “Maccaffertium” in it.  It’s because of Dr. Patrick Maccafferty.  Dr. Maccafferty has been leading the charge for many of the changes to mayfly names.  His findings allow him to rename the bugs, and that’s why his name is attached to so many of them.

I realize that some of you will never be interested in mayfly science.  And that’s OK, trout can’t speak Latin anyway–I think that may officially be the one millionth time someone has written or said that.  But the preponderance of angling, or common, mayfly names throughout the country sometimes makes it difficult for us fly fishers to understand each other, to make sure that we’re all talking about the same thing.  And, like it or not,  there’s only one universal language that calls the same mayfly by the same name around the world, and that’s Latin.

So, for those of you who are interested, the following link is for Mayfly Central, Purdue University’s up-to-the-minute hot-line for all changes to mayfly names.  You can also see what the bugs used to be called.  It’s actually really cool, in its own very frustrating way.



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