Sunday, July 20, 2014


I was excited the other night to discover what I thought was a very large moth flying by my garage light. It was a clumsy flier and I was intrigued by its strange wings which were very translucent in glow of the light. As luck would have it, the creature landed on my garage door and I realized it was not a moth, but instead a big, beautiful fishfly! I haven't had the opportunity to photography one since 2010, so I quickly grabbed my camera gear and clicked away as many shots as I could before it flew away.

This fishfly I have determined to be a male, as it has very feathery antennae. Antennae of the females are more beadlike. Because of the feathery antennae, I also believe this fishfly to be in the genus Chauliodes. The larvae of this fishfly live in still waters, as opposed to the running waters of rivers and streams.

You can click on the photos for a closer look!

Lucky for me this fella was very brave and patient. I thought for sure he'd fly away when I put my finger in for a perspective shot, but he didn't. Thanks big guy! I'd put the size of this fishfly at a little over 2 inches from head to wingtip.

A fly popped in for a little visit to help show the large size of this fishfly.

You can see here that fishflies have not just two eyes, but five. Two are compound eyes (eyes with multiple lenses), but the other three that you see on the top of its head are simple eyes which only have one lens. The three simple eyes here all point in a different direction, which I suspect help aid the fishfly in avoiding hungry predators.

Take a closer look at the cool mandibles of this fishfly. Most of the reading I have done indicates that the adult fishfly doesn't feed or eats very little. The mandibles could be used for self-defense from predators as well as during the mating process. I have also been unable to determine if they bite. I have read that the larvae can bite, but have found no information on the "biting" status of adults.

Juicy Tidbits

Fishflies are part of the Megaloptera order, which also includes alderflies and dobsonflies. The order name means "ample wings".

Dobsonflies and fishflies are part of the family Corydalidae.

When in the aquatic larval stage, the larvae feed on other insects like black fly larvae.

Adults eat little or nothing at all.

I believe this specimen is Chauliodes pectinicornis, which is commonly known as the summer fishfly.

The aquatic larval stage of the fishfly can last up to 2 - 3 years.

Adults typically only live for a few days, just enough time to mate and lay eggs.

Male fishflies have feathery antennae, the female fishfly antennae are more beadlike.

Life cycle is that of complete metamorphosis: egg ~ larva ~ pupa ~ adult.

Body size 21 - 46 mm (0.8 inches to 1.8 inches) not including wingspan.

For more information on the fishfly, check out these amazing sites:

Insect Identification. org --

Bioweb Home --

Bug Guide. net --

1 comment:

  1. Fascinating creatures, how can they survive if they barely eat though?