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Author Topic: Green Drakes and Those Who Love Them  (Read 376 times)

Arlen

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Green Drakes and Those Who Love Them
« on: June 26, 2022, 08:42:02 pm »

I dare say that Western Green Drake mayflies are among the most winsome members of the insect world, perhaps consistently exceeded
 in beauty only by butterflies. A few days ago I was fortunate to experience a prolific Green Drake hatch on the Metolius River.


Body length = 19 mm




The male Green Drake (Drunella grandis) above had just “hatched”; i.e., transformed from the larval or “nymph” phase to the initial adult phase, called a dun. Green Drake nymphs
hatch from eggs laid only in water that is just so—flowing, clean, cold and with an appropriately-sized cobble bottom. The nymphs spend a year roaming the river rocks, eating and
growing. When conditions are just right, they swim to the surface, break out of their nymphal exoskeletons, inflate their wings and fly away. But they only live for a few days, first
transforming to a second adult phase and then mating, laying eggs, and dying.

Duns and nymphs might reasonably be called the beauty and the beast. A look at a nymph in its watery world, below, confirms that the nymphs would not win any beauty contest.


Body length = 13 mm




After emerging from the water, duns fly in lumbering fashion to the shoreline vegetation. They don’t eat. Instead they rest, waiting to metamorphose once again into the second adult,
or “spinner”, phase (spinners not shown here).






However, when disturbed—by, for example, a camera lens stuck in its face—a dun may start crawling, or as a last resort, even flying away.






Such are the trials and tribulations of a bug photographer. Still, this game of hide and seek can sometimes lead to interesting juxtapositions. (But sadly, much more often to abject
failures—hopefully not shown here.)






Notice the extraordinary eyes of the male Green Drake in the image below. They are composed of two regions, a smaller black section below, and a larger red, “turbinate” section
above. The red upper part sees in the ultraviolet, while the lower black section is sensitive to the usual visible (to us) range of the light spectrum.






Females, however, lack the turbinate red section (see image below). This is a quick, easy way to determine the sex of a Green Drake at a glance, without
having to resort to peeping at their miniscule reproductive parts. This difference in eyes between the sexes has to do with, well, sex. I don’t have space
to go into details here, but the turbinate section is used to more easily spot and identify females that the males hope to mate with. Both Green Drake
sexes, as for all insects, have compound eyes that are composed of hundreds of tiny tubes (ommatidia) stacked side by side. In the image below, if you
look closely, the eye on the right is magnified just enough to begin to see the grid pattern of the stacked ommatidia.


Body length = 20 mm




This next image, of Oregon’s upper McKenzie River, is a good example of the kind of water where you are likely to find Western Green Drakes. Fast, clean, clear, cold, rocky. And oh yeah,
incredibly scenic. Green Drakes are very discriminating; you will rarely find them in ugly places.






And where you find Western Green Drakes, you will usually find the fish that love them. Rainbow trout (below), cutthroat trout, mountain whitefish, and even non-native, introduced
brook trout. They feast on the nymphs year round, and on the adults during the few summer weeks they are hatching.






Finally, these are the places—like the North Fork of the Middle Fork Willamette River (below)—where you will find the anglers who love the fish that love the Green Drakes.



 
« Last Edit: June 28, 2022, 01:05:06 am by Arlen »
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degrub

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Re: Green Drakes and Those Who Love Them
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2022, 09:59:26 pm »

Beautiful, just stunning.
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Bob_B

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  • Ergo cat notium
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Re: Green Drakes and Those Who Love Them
« Reply #2 on: June 27, 2022, 07:17:03 am »

Stunning. I so love trout streams like that one, and your photos do the venue and its denizens justice.
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Mark Nadler

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Re: Green Drakes and Those Who Love Them
« Reply #3 on: June 27, 2022, 10:56:26 am »

Unfortunately for me I have never had the privilege of fishing a Green Drake hatch. 

I really like your first image of a Green Drake and I love your image of the rainbow.  Your last image is why I love to fish.

mark
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kers

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    • Pieter Kers
Re: Green Drakes and Those Who Love Them
« Reply #4 on: June 27, 2022, 03:03:34 pm »

Amazing set of photos ! congratulations!
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Pieter Kers
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Eric Myrvaagnes

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Re: Green Drakes and Those Who Love Them
« Reply #5 on: June 27, 2022, 05:10:24 pm »

Amazing set of photos ! congratulations!
+1.
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-Eric Myrvaagnes (visit my website: http://myrvaagnes.com)

francois

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Re: Green Drakes and Those Who Love Them
« Reply #6 on: June 28, 2022, 07:19:13 am »

The whole set is breathtaking!
Bravo and thanks for sharing again.
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Francois

Arlen

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Re: Green Drakes and Those Who Love Them
« Reply #7 on: June 29, 2022, 10:40:48 am »

Thank you, gentlemen, for all your generous responses.
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