Plants and Animals

Habrophlebiodes americana A mayfly

Key Characteristics

Adults of this species reach an average of 5mm, in both body and wing length. The thorax and head are of a reddish-brown color, with the legs and three tails being white. Wings are transparent with both transparent and pale brown longitudinal veins. The middle abdominal segments are semi-transparent with brown to purplish markings on the dorsal side, while the segments surrounding these on either end are opaque and dorsally reddish brown. The underside of the abdominal segments is yellow with brown to purplish bands (Needham et al. 1935). Nymphs of the Habrophlebiodes genus are between 4 and 6 mm in length, with a general slender and flattened appearence. Slender gills are forked at about a third of their length, becoming two long filaments (Edmunds et al. 1976).

Status and Rank

US Status: No Status/Not Listed
State Status: SC - Special Concern (rare or uncertain; not legally protected)
Global Rank: G5 - Secure
State Rank: SH - Possibly extirpated


CountyNumber of OccurrencesYear Last Observed

Information is summarized from MNFI's database of rare species and community occurrences. Data may not reflect true distribution since much of the state has not been thoroughly surveyed.


Nymphs are most often found among the leaf litter, woody debris, exposed roots or submerged vegetation of woodland streams, in areas of slow to moderate speed (Edmunds et al. 1976).

Natural Community Types

  • Headwater stream (1st-2nd order), riffle
  • Headwater stream (1st-2nd order), pool
  • Headwater stream (1st-2nd order), run
  • Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), pool
  • Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), run
  • Mainstem stream (3rd-4th order), riffle

For each species, lists of natural communities were derived from review of the nearly 6,500 element occurrences in the MNFI database, in addition to herbarium label data for some taxa. In most cases, at least one specimen record exists for each listed natural community. For certain taxa, especially poorly collected or extirpated species of prairie and savanna habitats, natural community lists were derived from inferences from collection sites and habitat preferences in immediately adjacent states (particularly Indiana and Illinois). Natural communities are not listed for those species documented only from altered or ruderal habitats in Michigan, especially for taxa that occur in a variety of habitats outside of the state.

Natural communities are not listed in order of frequency of occurrence, but are rather derived from the full set of natural communities, organized by Ecological Group. In many cases, the general habitat descriptions should provide greater clarity and direction to the surveyor. In future versions of the Rare Species Explorer, we hope to incorporate natural community fidelity ranks for each taxon.

Management Recommendations

Maintaining high water quality is a mayfly management priority, as these insects spend the major portion of their lives as underwater nymphs. Drastic population declines resulting from pesticide applications targeting other insect species, as well as increased levels of heavy metal and chemical pollution related to industrial and other landuse activities, have been documented (Williams and Feltmate 1992, Pond 2010). Though many mayfly species are extremely sensitive to acidification (Earl and Callaghan 1998, New 1998), nymphs of the Habrophlebiodes genus seem to be somewhat tolerant, often being found in slightly acidic streams which drain forest or bog areas (Edmunds et al. 1976). Mayflies are negatively affected by increased siltation, which buries the pebbles and debris on the substrate that comprise their microhabitat (Williams and Feltmate 1992). Efforts to reduce the siltation associated with major construction projects and agricultural/urban runoff, and the maintenance of healthy riparian buffers will help to preserve the habitat of mayflies and many other aquatic organisms.

Active Period

Breeding from first week of May to second week of July

Survey Methods

Adult mayflies can be sampled from mating swarms using a long-handled, fine-mesh nylon net (Leonard and Leonard 1962). There are several methods used to collect nymphs, including substrate sampling using an Ekman or Petersen grab, d-frame net, or naturalists' dredge. Gathering of river stones by hand is another successful method. Collected samples are then rinsed through a series of sieves and specimens hand-picked using forceps (New 1998).

Aerial net, visual survey

Survey Period: From first week of May to second week of July

Survey Method Comment: Adults


Survey References

  • Leonard, J.W. and F.A. Leonard. 1962. Mayflies of Michigan Trout Streams. Cranbrook Institute of Science, Bloomfield Hills, MI. 139pp.
  • New, T.R. 1998. Invertebrate Surveys for Conservation. Oxford University Press, New York. 240pp.

Technical References

  • Earle, J. and T. Callaghan. 1998. Impacts of mine drainage on aquatic life, water uses, and man-made structures. Pp. 4.1-4.10. In: Brady, B.C., T. Kania, W.M. Smith and R.J. Horberger (eds.). 1998. Coal Mine Drainage Prediction and Pollution Prevention in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.
  • Edmunds, G.F. Jr., S.L. Jensen, L. Berner. 1976. The Mayflies of North and Central America. University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, MN. 329 pp.
  • Needham, J.G., J.R. Traver and Y. Hsu. 1935. The Biology of Mayflies. Comstock Publishing, New York. 759 pp.
  • New, T.R. 1998. Invertebrate Surveys for Conservation. Oxford University Press, New York. 240pp.
  • Pond, G.J. 2010. Patterns of Ephemeroptera taxa loss in Appalachian headwater streams (Kentucky, USA). Hydrobiologia 641:185-201.
  • Williams, D.D. and B.W. Feltmate. 1992. Aquatic Insects. C.A.B. International, Wallingford, U.K. 358pp.