BERLIN (AP) – Denmark’s Mayfly was selected Friday by an international group of entomologists and others as Insect of the Year for 2021, but he won’t have long to celebrate his 15 minutes of fame.
The insect, whose scientific name is Ephemera danica, has only a few days to fly, mate and lay new eggs.
“What makes the ephemeral unique is its life cycle: from an egg laid in water to an insect capable of flight and mating, which dies after a few days,” said Thomas Schmitt , president of the commission of scientists and representatives of research institutions. and the conservation organizations from Germany, Austria and Switzerland who made the choice.
Mayflies have been around for around 355 million years and today some 140 species live in central Europe, the commission said.
Despite their fleeting passage on earth in their final form, their development cycle is quite long.
The female mayflies zigzag above the water between May and September, laying thousands of eggs which then sink.
The larvae hatch within days and eventually develop gills. Buried in riverbeds, they take between one and three years to develop.
“Shortly before the transition from aquatic life to terrestrial life, a layer of air forms between the old and new skin of adult larvae,” said Schmitt, also director of the German Entomological Institute Senckenberg in Muencheberg, east of Berlin. “By reducing its specific weight, the larva rises to the surface of the water. Once there, the larva’s skin bursts and within seconds a flyable mayfly hatches.
With no mouthparts or a functioning gut, the fully developed mayfly only has a few days to mate and lay new eggs before dying.
The commission has selected a single insect each year since 1999 to “bring an exemplary species closer to humans”.