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James G. (James George) Needham.

May flies and midges of New York. Third report on aquatic insects. A study conducted at the entomologic field station, Ithaca, N. Y. online

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LIBRARY



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA.



GIFT OF



~V\ .



Ctes



Published monthly l-y the



New York State Education Department



BULLETIN 343



JUNE IQ05



New York State Museum

JOHN M. CLARKE Director
EPHRAIM PORTER FELT State Entomologist



OF TKF

UNIVERSITY )
ENTOMOLOGY 23 V OF



Bulletin 86



MAY FLIES AND MIDGES OF NEW YORK

THIRD REPORT ON AQUATIC INSECTS

A study conducted at the entomologic field station, Ithaca N. Y. under the direction of
EPHRAIM PORTER FELT D.Sc.

BY

JAMES G. NEEDHAM Ph.D. Professor of biology, Lake Forest College

KENNETH J. MORTON F.E.S.L. Edinburgh, Scotland

O. A. JOHANNSEN M.S. Instructor in civil engineering, Cornell University



Preface 4

Introduction .-; 7

Slimmer Food of the Bullfrog at

Saranac Inn. J. G. NEEDHAM 9

Ephemeridae. J. G. NEEDHAM. . 17
North American Hydroptilidae.

K. J. MORTON 63



Aquatic Nematocercrus Diptera

II. O. A. JOHANNSEN 76

Explanation to the plates. 316

Legenda to text figures 331

Plates 1-37 face 332

Index 333



Meirjm-S 1-200:



ALBANY

NEW YORK STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
1905

Price 80 cents



STATE OF NEW YORK
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With years when terms expire
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State Museum, Albany N. Y. Oct. 17, 1904
Hon. Andrew 8. Draper

Commissioner of Education, Capitol

iSiR : I beg to transmit herewith, for publication as a bulletin
of this division, a third report on aquatic insects, entitled Hay
Flies and Midges of New York by Dr J. G. Needham, Special
Assistant to the State Entomologist.

Very respectfully

JOHN M. CLARKE

Director
State of New York

Education Department
COMMISSIONER'S ROOM

Approved for publication Oct. 24, 1904




Commissioner of Education



13527G



PREFACE

This, the third report upon work begun in 1900, like its
predecessors, marks an important advance in knowledge. The
first report, State Museum Bulletin 47, consisting of 230 pages
and 36 plates, gave the life histories of about one hundred aquatic
forms and characterized ten species and two new genera. The
most important portion of this work was the monographic ac-
count of the larger dragon flies (Odonata Anisoptera).
There were also valuable additions to our knowledge of the stone
flies (Plecoptera) and the May flies (Ephemeridae),
and the admirable account of the Caddis flies ( T r i c h o p t e r a) ,
by Mr Betten, deserves special mention because of its careful bio-
logic treatment of a heretofore much neglected grouip. The
second report, State Museum Bulletin 68, comprised 419 pages
and 52 plates and was a continuation of the preceding. The
monograph of the Odonata is completed by an exhaustive
account of the smaller dragon flies (Zygoptera). Among
the imiportant contributions may be mentioned: The key to
Coleopterous larvae with an account of some aquatic
Chrysomelidae by Dr MacGillivray, the discussion of cer-
tain aquatic nemato<cerous Diptera by Dr Johannsen, and a
monograph on the Sialididae of the Western Hemisphere.
The present report is a continuation of the work, and among its
valuable features should be noted the monographic account of
our May flies, a group of great importance as food for fish. The
small midges, belonging to the Chironomidae, are very
important as fish-food and have been treated exhaustively by Mr
Johannsen. These three publications mark a most decided ad-
vance in our knowledge of aquatic forms and, with the publica-
tion of the monograph on stone flies now in preparation, a large
fund of information will be available for the student of aquatic
forms.

This study, as was pointed out in the introduction to the first
report, has been made upon broad lines with the avowed purpose
of producing something of value to the fish culturist, who must
first of all be able to identify aquatic forms, something well-nigh



MAY FLIES AND MIDGES OF NEW YORK

impossible, before these reports were made public. The investi-
gations of Dr S. A. Fortes of Illinois convinced him that nearly
one-fifth of the entire amount of food consumed by all adult fishes
examined by him consisted of aquatic neuropteroid larvae, the
greater part of them being the young of May flies. It may never
be possible to rear aquatic insects for the purpose of feeding fish,
but it certainly is feasible in some instances to provide conditions
adapted to multiplication of aquatic insects, and therefore valu-
able as feeding grounds for fish. The history of the shellfish in-
dustry gives a little idea of the possibilities along this line. A
number of years ago it was at a very low eibb, owing to unscien-
tific methods in vogue and the lack of individual control. This
has been changed and we now have a thriving industry producing
over two million dollars ($2,309,758) worth of products, accord-
ing to the report of the United States Fish Commission for 1900.
It is exceedingly difficult to obtain figures relating to the value of
our fresh-water fishes, but a compilation from the report of the
United States Fish Commission for the year 1900 gives the total
value of fresh-water fish in the Hudson river valley and Long
Island at over one million dollars (f 1,192,544), and the report
for 1901 places the value of fresh-water fish obtained in the State
from the Great Lakes at nearly one-fourth a million ($241,916).
These figures, it will be observed, give no idea of the value of
fresh-water fish taken in various lakes and streams throughout
the State, aside from the areas mentioned above. Comparing the
water areas available for shellfish culture and those suitable for
the development of fresh-water fish, it will Tbe seen that there is a
considerable discrepancy in favor of the latter and yet the value
of the product is much smaller. It is stated that a large propor-
tion of the market fish of China are grown in ponds, and that
carp culture is an important industry not only in China but in
Germany, and that formerly carp were extensively reared in Eng-
land. Germany and Sweden, and lately France, have also done
considerable along this line.

It is hardly likely that this country will adopt Chinese methods,
because the great difference in the price of labor makes it imprac-
ticable; still the proper knowledge of the conditions suitable



6 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM

for the growth and multiplication of fish may put it within the
power of many to make substantial additions to the productivity
of areas under control, without great increase in the cost of man-
agement. These investigations have been conducted primarily to
ascertain the relations existing between fish and insects they feed
upon, and the conditions necessary for the development of large
amounts of fish-food. Much of the preliminary work has been
accomplished, and the data already obtained should prove of great
service to parties interested in fish culture, especially in making
heretofore barren waters productive.

E. P. FELT
State Entomologist



OF THE

/ UNIVER:
\ OF

New York State Education Department .c

New York State Museum

JOHN M. CLARKE Director

Bulletin 86
ENTOMOLOGY 23

MAY FLIES AND MIDGES OF NEW YORK

I. INTRODUCTION.

BY JAMES G. NEEDHAM

This bulletin includes further results of the study of material
gathered under the auspices of the New York entomologic field
station, and is therefore complementary to bulletins 47 and 68
of this same series. Bulletin 47 contains the more general re-
sults of the first field season spent at Saranac Inn, introductory
keys to aquatic insect larvae, numerous life histories, and a de-
tailed report of the dragonflies (O d o n a t a-A n i s o p t e r a)
of New York State. Bulletin 68 contains the main results of
the second field season spent at Ithaca, further life histories,
detailed reports on the damselflies (Odonata-Zygoptera)
of the state, on aquatic plant-beetles (O h r y s o m e 1 i d a e), on
certain families of nematocerous diptera, and on American
Sialididae; also, an account of the food of the brook trout
in Bone pond.

This bulletin contains the work of three collaborators who
have labored apart on the remaining material gathered for the
station. Mr O. A. Johannsen furnishes the major part, in the
form of a completed review of the Chironomidae. Not-
withstanding that these little gnats are enormously abundant
everywhere and are of first importance among insects affecting
fish culture, this is the first American monograph we have had
dealing with the family to which they belong. It is a generic
treatment of the world fauna, together with detailed descriptions
and life histories (mostly new) of our known species. It is a



8 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM

work of first importance, and will doubtless serve as a basis for
future studies in this long-neglected family.

Mr K. J. Morton of Edinburgh contributes a paper on the
micro-caddisflies of the family H y d r o p t i 1 i d a e of T r i -
ckoptera, which is practically the beginning of the study of
this group in America.

My own part in this bulletin is a second contribution to the
knowledge of our may-flies. Because of the great economic im-
portance of this group also, I have thought it worth while to
attempt to provide American students with a better introduc-
tion to the study of the group than has hitherto been generally
available. Hence, in addition to new life histories, I have pre-
pared new generic keys to both nymphs and adults, which, with
the detailed explanations and figures, should enable even a
novice to take up the study of this neglected group with some
hope of success.

I have also prepared a brief report on the summer food of the
bullfrog (E ana cat e s b i a n a Shaw) at Saranac Inn, and in
the discussion of that food have included a number of ecological
and systematic notes, among which is a new key to our genera of
H e m e r o b i i d a e .

I planned also to include herein a report on the stoneflies
(P e r 1 i d a e) and did much work to that end : but the station
collections are large, and much material has come to me from
friends outside, and my manuscript has grown until it now
seems better not to include it herein, but to make a separate
bulletin of it. I am therefore continuing the work with the
purpose of making the next station bulletin a monograph of
North American Perlidae. I should be greatly obliged if
American collectors who have even a few specimens would send
me them for study.

In this place I may add a note supplementary to bulletin 68.
The " unknown tipulid larva from a spring " described on pp.285-
286 and figured in pi. 10, figs.4-5, is P e d i c i a albivitta
Walker. Had Beling's third paper on Tipulid larvae
(Verh. zool.-bot. Ges. Wiel, vol. 36) been available to me when I
was studying this larvae, I should have been able to determine
it from his keys and description. The " unknown leptid larva
from rapid streams" of p.286 and pl.lO, fig.l, is doubtless a



MAY FLIES AND MIDGES OP NEW YORK



9



species of A t h e r i x , as has been kindly indicated to me in
correspondence by both Professor A. Giard of Paris and Dr R.
Lauterborn of Ludwigshafen.

THE SUMMER FOOD OF THE BULLFROG (RAN A CATES-

BIANA SHAW) AT SARANAC INN

(With plate 1)

BY JAMES G. NEEDHAM

Bullfrogs are common at Saranac Inn. Any warm evening
their sonorous notes may be heard reverberating through the
tamarack swamps, echoing and reechoing across Little Clear
pond between Green hill and the outlet, or rising with a startling
crescendo near at hand from the shallows of the reedy creek,
setting the thread-rushes trembling, and fretting the face of the
water with infinitestimal wavelets, striking with wonder and
admiration the ears of the stranger accustomed only to the
vocal powers of the lesser civilized frogs, By day they sit in the
edge of the water, stolidly basking in the sunshine, picking a
straying bee or dragonfly out of the air, or lapping a floating ant
or an emerging caddi&fly from the surface of the water, eating
much or little according to the bestowal of Providence, and when
alarmed by our too close approach, plunging away with a single
dilatory and awkward leap into deeper water. Their tadpoles,
likewise of phenomenal size, are to be seen about the submerged
timbers in Little Clear pond and creek. They are oftenest
observed resting upon the logs in the sunshine. Frequently,
when crossing the bridge over Big Clear creek on the Otisville
road during our first field season, I stopped to watch them sun-
ning themselves on the submerged bridge timbers, and often
dropped pebbles upon them to see them swim away. They would
wriggle and sidle and slide off the timbers, and then with a
motion that appeared most deliberate strike a straight course
obliquely downward far away across the clear deep waters of the
stream, moving slowly forward by sculling undulations of the
enormous banner-like tail.

During July and August, 1900, I preserved the food of a number
of adult bullfrogs from Little Clear creek, taking the stomachs of
chance specimens that were killed for food and preserving and



NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM

cleaning the contents. Most of the specimens were obtained for
me by iny friend l)r O. 8. Westcott of Chicago, who was visiting
the station at that time. I suggested that he test the efficiency
of a hook and line baited with a little piece of red silk flirted near
the bullfrogs' heads. He reported the capture of every specimen
properly approached; said that bullfrogs are abject idiots; said
that if one is not hooked at his first dash for the dangling cloth,
but gets his mouth snagged, he will go for the bait again and
again as eagerly as at first. It is indeed remarkable how the
predatory reflexes" incited by the sight of the dangling red cloth
prevail over the effects of the wounds.

There now remain in the New York State collection the pre-
served contents of the stomachs of fifteen of these frogs, and I
have studied this material, with the aid of Mr W. H. Ferguson,
and report on it here. The following table is largely the work
of Mr Ferguson. I have added to it the single record published
in bulletin 47 p.401, making 16 in all.

The traditional account of the manner of the bullfrog's feeding
pictures him sitting immobile on a bank, watching for insects
passing through the air, and, when these approach, capturing
them by flirting out his long, bifurcated, sticky tongue and
striking them. The picture is incomplete. Doubtless he cap-
tures some of the bees and hover flies and others of the fleetest
insects in just this way, but the larger, heavier and slower ones
he endeavors to meet half way. For instance, on the approach of
a big caddisfly or a blackwing damselfly, he becomes greatly ex-
cited, especially after an unsuccessful stroke at it, and leaps and
plunges toward it with tongue and jaws both reaching for it.
Some of the larger of his captives would not be held by the
adhesiveness of his tongue without the immediate assistance of
his jaws. Moreover, the greater part of his food is not obtained
from the air at all, but from plants, from the ground, and from
the water, and doubtless, by more deliberate methods. The cater-
pillars and sawfly larvae of the table were probably picked from
plants; the beetles and millipedes from the ground; the water
striders, floating dead insects, soldierfly larvae, gnat pupae, and
transforming caddisflies from the surface of the water; and the
mayfly nymph, gnat larvae and some of the snails probably from
beneath the water.



MAY FLIES AND MIDGES OP NEW YORK



11





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12 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM

NOTES ON THE FOOD

General. Leaving aside the plant fragments eaten, which were
of considerable number and variety, which were obtained both
from the water and the air (as shown by the presence of filamen-
tous algae and a broken flower cluster in the same stomach), but
which were probably all obtained accidentally along with animal
food, there were present the remains of 164 animals. Of these
the largest number, 139, were insects, 18 were snails, 3 were
Crustacea, 3 were spiders, and 2 were vertebrates. The most im-
portant part of the food is doubtless insects and snails; the
former in great variety, the latter consisting of a single species.
Leaving aside frog no. 16, whose stomach contained only a large
meadow mouse, the other 15 had eaten on an average 9 insects
and 1.2 snails apiece.

Of the insects eaten two were millipedes (apparently J u 1 u s ,
but not in condition to identify with certainty) and the remainder
were hexapods. The ten orders present had the following numer-
ical representation : Diptera, 42; Hymenoptera, 22;
Hemiptera, 19; Coleoptera, 16; Trichoptera,
15 (not including 4 whose presence was evidenced only by sand sup-
posed to have been derived from larval cases) ; O d o n a t a , 11,
and a large mass of eggs of Tetragoneuria; Orthop-
tera, 6; Neuroptera, 3; Lepidoptera, 2 ( larvae) ;
Ephemeridae, 1 (nymph) . Of these the six orders first
named were present in fairly equivalent proportions, and these,
with the snail, Physa heterostropha, may be said to
constitute the staple food of the bullfrog in summer at Saranac
Inn. The bulk of the snails eaten was certainly greater than
that of the insects of any single order. The largest animal eaten
was the meadow mouse, and next in size were the two, craw-
fishes.

Vertebrates. There were two vertebrates eaten; frog no. 16
had eaten nothing but a short-tailed meadow mouse (Arvicola
pennsylvanicus) of large size ; that was enough to fill his
stomach to its full capacity. How he came by this sumptuous
morsel I am unable to understand unless he found it dead and
floating down the creek. Frog no. 15 had swallowed a yearling
tadpole of his own species.



MAY FLIES AND MIDGES OF NEW YORK 13

Crustaceans. Frogs nos. 7 and 12 had each eaten a crawfish, of
which there remained as evidence only the chelipeds. These indi-
cated half-grown individuals of the genus C a m b a r u s. Frog
no. 15 had eaten, probably by accident, a minute and undeter-
mined copepod.

Hymenoptera. These collections were made during the season
of flight of the winged males and females of the big carpenter ant
(Oamponotus pennsylvanicus) remains of which
were found in nine stomachs. Thus this species occurred a
greater number of times than any other. Stranded specimens
were frequently seen floating down the creek, and the frogs may
as well have obtained them from the surface as from the air.
Worker bumble bees (Bom bus ternarius Say and B.
c o n s i m i 1 i s Or.) were found in five stomachs, and these were
doubtless obtained alive. The bullfrog would seem to be, like the
brook trout, immune to bee poison. The other hymenoptera were
but three; a wasp (Vespa diabolica Sauss.) in frog no. 12,
a sawfly larva in frog no. 1, and a minute parasitic hymenopter in
frog No. 11.

Coleoptera. Of the 16 specimens of this order eaten 12 were
Carabidae (11 adults and one larva) , and there were single
adults of Scarabaeidae,Chrysomelidae, and C u r -
c u 1 i o n i d a e , and a single larva of Elateridae.

Diptera. This order was represented by the largest number of
individuals, but many of them were very small. Six families were
represented : Tipulidae, Ohironomidae, Stratio-
myidae, Syrphidae,Tabanidae, and Tachinidae.

A single adult Tabanid was eaten, two adult T a c h i n i d s ,
four adult Syrphids, the better preserved appearing to belong
to the genus Eristalis, five adult Tipulidae, all belong-
ing to moderate sized species of the genus T i p u 1 a . There was a
single adult Chironomid, but there were eleven pupae, ten
of them from frog no. 14, all belonging to the genus C h i r o n o -
m u s and one larva from the same frog belonging to the same
genus and one belonging in Ceratopogon. A sixth family,
Stratiomyiidae, was represented by twelve larvae of
Stratiomyia badius? from frog no. 1. In bulletin 47,
p.576, I have recorded that I could find but a single specimen



14 NEW YORK STATE MUSEUM

of this species during the season. Of the total of 42 D i p t e r a
eaten 27 were larvae and pupae, and these must have been ob-
tained from the water.

Trichoptera. With the single exception of the large Neu-
ronia postica eaten by frog no. 3, all the other caddisflies
were teneral imagos, captured probably as they came to the sur-
face in transformation. This was evidenced by the pupal skins
still hanging to many of the specimens. All were in bad con-
dition in consequence, and in determining them I placed chief
reliance on the characters of the pupal skins. I was able to
assure myself that about nine of the specimens belonged to the
genus II a 1 e s u s and another to Hydropsyche. The sand
found in four of the stomachs seemed to indicate that larvae in
their cases had been eaten earlier and entirely digested. Larvae
of Poly -centre pus' lucid us and Molanna c i n e r e a
are sufficiently available in Little Clear creek. I have shown in
bulletin 68 that the brook trout in Bone pond swallow the larvae
of another species case and all.

Odonata. Drangonflies constituted as large a part of the food
as any other single group of insects. Although the number was
but eleven, the size of the individuals was relatively large, the
adult A e s c h n a and the nymph of A n a x being among the
largest insects eaten. Four adult and apparently fully colored
blackwings, Oalopteryx maculata, two adults of A r g i a
v i o 1 a c e a and single undetermined specimens of L e s t e s ,
E n a 1 1 a g m a and JE s c h n a make up the list, together with
a nymph of A n a x j u n i u s and an undetermined nymph of
the subfamily A g r i o n i n a e. The adults, so far as might be
determined, were all females and might have been obtained while
ovipositing. Frog no. 4 had swallowed a considerable mass of
eggs of Tetragoneuria. In bulletin 47, pp.490-492 (with
fig.19) I have given an account of these eggs. The frog probably
found a cluster unusually close in shore.

Hemiptera. The water skaters (Hydrotrechus sp?)
constitute an important and fairly constant element of the food,
16 of the 19 specimens found being of this genus.

Orthoptera. Five grasshoppers were found singly, the one in



Online LibraryJames G. (James George) NeedhamMay flies and midges of New York. Third report on aquatic insects. A study conducted at the entomologic field station, Ithaca, N. Y. → online text (page 1 of 35)