Saturday, August 27, 2011

Montana Insects, Part I.

I've just returned from a week in Montana where the main item on the agenda was 5 days of fly fishing for trout.  The fishing was great.  But I did take a few pictures -- well, more than a "few"! -- of insects.  It's early for me to make any kind of report, but I want to post some beautiful photos of beautiful stonefly and mayfly nymphs.

The "common stonefly" pictured above -- Perlidae -- is, I'm told Claassenia sabulosa, a species that's only found in the West:  its presence has been attested in Arizona, Colorado, Montana, Saskatchewan, and Utah.  I found this one (it was around 2 inches long, by the way) in Rock Creek, 25 miles east of Missoula.  Here's a close-up shot of the head, where the row of spinules across the "occipital ridge" (back of the head) stands out prominently.

Stunning colors and patterns!

Next, three spiny crawler mayflies -- big ones, about 1 inch in length -- all genus Drunella, all different colors, and all three were found in Grant Creek, a small stream that flows right through Missoula.

Finally, another spiny crawler (Ephemerellidae), but a species that isn't found in the East -- Timpanoga hecuba.  This hatches in the fall as a large, reddish mayfly that provides good fishing for fly fishermen.
Note the large "operculate" gills on segment 4 that cover the gills on segments 5-7.

Much, much more to follow, including many shots of small minnow mayflies -- that I hope to identify to genus level before I write up an entry.

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