Alderflies, Fishflies & Dobsonflies

Dobsonflies, Fishflies and Alderflies are from the all-encompassing order Megaloptera. At least 43 species of megalopterans are known in North America with some 300 or so identified species around the world. In general, these insects live rather short lives and, believe it or not, do not need to eat. All three insect types feature long antennae of differing designs and large compound eyes. While Dobsonflies and Fishflies add smaller simple eyes to the mix. Each of these species can fly and have two sets of wings, lying flat on the Dobsonfly and Fishfly and at an inward angle on the Alderfly when it is at rest.

These species begin life as larvae in water sources (calm or active water), and are noted for their length and multiple leg pairs as well as protrusions that appear to be legs but instead serve as gills. The larvae prey on other insect larvae, waterborne invertebrates, and water-based creatures such as clams.

The Dobsonfly is the msot well known of these species for their imposing size and appearance. Identified by the long mouth parts on the males. These are used for fighting other males in the mating ritual. Dobsonflies and Fishflies are mostly active at night and are attracted to light. Female Megalopterans, lay hundreds – sometimes even thousands – of eggs at at time and will remain near water sources during the process. The hatchlings can then be born and slip directly into the water or find many other places to hide for protection during these early days. Maturity is reached through multiple metamorphosis phases.