As Mayfly season approaches, we thought it'd be interesting to take a look at the short, but action-packed life of this special species.
Mayflies spend a year awaiting their birth, and then most die after living just one day. Their sole purpose is to pass on their genes, and most never even bother eating...and that's been the status quo for 100 million years.
Mayflies spend an entire year in freshwater in what's known as a nymph stage, in which the insects already look much like their adult forms but don't actually do anything. After that year, the insects fly off to find a mate, lay some eggs, and promptly die. As Oregon State University researcher George Poinar, Jr. explains, mayflies don't really have the option of living a long life:
"After their mating flight mayflies are usually dead by the end of the day. There's only one thing they really care about on that one eventful day, and it's not eating. They don't even have functional mouth parts."
If you think of evolution as maximizing one's imperative to pass on genes and continue the species for another generation, then I guess you could call these mayflies the most highly evolved species in existence.
After all, their entire existence is consumed with mating and reproduction - they're only born when they're ready to mate, and they die as soon as they're done. They have even evolved a natural immunity to life's little distractions, like, you know, eating. Honestly, I can't even imagine a more miserable existence than this, even if you are mating for life.
Via Historical Biology.