Adults have two pairs of wings that are clear, membranous, and finely veined and rest closely down the back of the body, the forewings covering the hindwings. Antennae are threadlike and long. Colors are usually dull, dark, and drab brown, yellow, or sometimes green.
Larvae (also called nymphs or naiads) are aquatic, flattened, with 6 sprawling legs and with a segmented abdomen bearing 2 long antenna-like “tails” (cerci). The antennae are long, too. Gills are tuftlike and usually positioned at the bases of the legs, on the underside of the body. Each foot has 2 claws.
To identify the many different kinds of stoneflies, one must use a magnifying lens and note details of mouthparts, wing vein patterns, leg segments, cerci, gills, and more.
Habitat and Conservation
Nine Missouri stoneflies are Species of Conservation Concern and thus are vulnerable to becoming extirpated from our state.
Technically, a stonefly is any insect in the order Plecoptera. An order is a category larger than a family. There are nearly 3,500 species of stoneflies worldwide, and more than 670 in North America. Describing the characteristics of stoneflies is like describing all the beetles.