Entomology (Study of Bugs)/What is this?


What in the World?
What in the World?  
Could you please identify this creature? It was taken by a friend that lives in Littlestown, pa which is located in South Central PA below Gettysburg.

Dear Travis - First off, my apologies for the delay in responding; I thought that I had put myself on 'vacation' for this weekend (I was up at our regional caving field station and just now returned home), but obviously something went awry...
   Anyway, what you have here is the cast 'skin' (exuvium) of the subimago (pre-adult) stage of a mayfly (order Ephemeroptera). Mayflies are the only insects that I am aware of that molt after reaching the winged stage of their life. The vast majority of their lives are spent as aquatic immatures (nymphs/naiads); living only a matter of hours to a few days as adults. See http://tinyurl.com/l2astvy for an image of a subimago before molting and http://tinyurl.com/c9gc2xs for details of the mayfly life cycle.

Hope this helps,

Entomology (Study of Bugs)

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Ed Saugstad


Will accept most questions in general entomology, including those related to medical entomology, taxonomy, ecology, arthropod surveillance, and pest management. If you are requesting a 'mystery bug' identification, PLEASE either attach an image to your question, or post an image on a web page (such as Flickr) so that I can look at it, as verbal descriptions frequently are insufficient for a definitive identification.


21 years in the U.S. Army as a medical entomologist; duties varied from surveillance of pest populations (including mosquitoes, cockroaches, ticks, and stored products pests) to conducting research on mosquito-virus ecological relationships and mosquito faunal studies. Ten years as a civilian analyst for the Department of Defense, primarily on distribution of vector-borne diseases worldwide. Limited experience on surveillance of agricultural insects in North Dakota and Indiana.

Entomological Society of America, West Virginia Entomological Society, Society for Vector Ecology, National Speleological Society, West Virginia Association for Cave Studies.

American Journal of Public Health, Contributions of the American Entomological Institute, Japanese Journal of Sanitary Zoology, Journal of Economic Entomology, Mosquito News, and Mosquito Systematics.

B.S. in entomology from North Dakota State University in 1963, M.S. in entomology from Purdue University in 1967.

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