Nature Notes from Common Ground

Week of May 24, 2021

Life Cycle of the Mayfly

What came first - the mayfly or the egg? Descended from one of the oldest known insect groups, called Palaeoptera, mayflies have a very interesting life cycle! Eggs can be found at the bottom of lakes and rivers, stuck to plants and stones. Nymphs hatch from the eggs and live in the water for up to two years. They will molt, or shed their exoskeleton (similar to the way a snake does), up to thirty times, and eventually float up on an air bubble, crawl, or swim to the surface of the water to become an adult mayfly.


Mayflies have two adult stages after their time as a nymph: First is the sub-imago (also known as a dun). A mayfly only remains as a sub-imago for a few hours, and then molts yet again into the brightly colored, mature imago (also known as a spinner). The mayfly is an imago for such a short period of time, it doesn’t even need mouthparts for eating! Some mayfly imagos only live for 5 minutes, others for two days - just long enough to fly around in a dancing swarm, mate, and produce eggs. After reproducing and dropping their eggs in the water, female mayflies usually fall into the water, often to be eaten by a fish. Male mayflies do not usually return to the water, but instead go off to die on land. Meanwhile, the eggs sink to the bottom of the water where they attach to rocks and plants, and the cycle begins again!


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Nature activity of the week

Plant a Seed!

With all the warm weather we’ve been having, the ground has warmed nicely. It’s the perfect time to plant a seed or two to enjoy as the summer progresses! If you’ve never planted something before, why not give it a try? You don’t need a beautiful garden space; all you need is a small space to plant in - a little patch beside your house will do. And if you don’t have ANY outdoor space, plant your seed in a cup!


It’s amazing to watch the first leaves sprout, then the plants get larger, and finally, your reward: a flower or fruit! A few seeds that are easy to grow and don’t take up much space are sunflowers, beans, or squashes. They’ll even grow up a fence or the side of a building if you let them! Go on - grab a packet of seeds from the store and plant away!

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Weekly Video

Mayfly's incredibly short and action-packed lifecycle - BBC

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Hike of the Week

Gilette Castle


Each week we share a family-friendly hike or outdoor adventure. Click here to visit Gilette Castle - it opens for tours this week and the ferry is open for the season!

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About this series

Our programs for children at Common Ground are place based, hands on, and focus on community, friendship, and nature-based learning and play.


In this time of virtual learning and social distancing, we seek to support teachers and families in getting outside in safe and healthy ways. We hope this series provides content and activities to help your students or your family engage in nature-based learning, whether you are learning in person or virtually.


Some of the funding we rely on to keep Nature Notes free comes from the Robert F. Schumann Foundation and The Claire C. Bennitt Watershed Fund, established by the South Central CT Regional Water Authority.

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