Summer Fishfly (Chauliodes pectinicornis)



The larval stage of a fishfly's life is when they begin feeding. Since they are underwater in this stage, larval Summer Fishflies are highly predaceous. They are carnivorous and tend to eat everything from small aquatic invertebrates to small insect larvae to even clams and worms (Imms 1977). Larvae are know to eat tadpoles and minnows along with other aquatic insects.

The larva obtain their food by capturing it in their small mouths while moving about the floor of what ever aquatic environment they are in. Typically, the Summer Fishfly relies on detritus or dead animal tissue, because they lack the large powerful mandibles or jaws of other Chauliodes to capture live prey. Dead tadpoles, minnows, or insects can commonly be found on the lake's or stream's bottom. This feeding habit by the larvae is called saprophagous.

The larva must overcome the physical stresses of living in an aquatic environment. Water temperatures and water currents play a large role in whether the fishfly will be able to obtain food. Too cold of a water temperature will cause the fishfly to become inactive and a swift current will inhibit the ability of the larva to move about.
The Summer Fishfly digests food in a similar manner to the rest of Arthropoda. Food is ingested and passes through a mouth with salivary glands to break down food. It travels down the esophagus to the crop and proventriculus. The crop stores food until it can pass into the proventriculus where it is grinded down into smaller particles. From there, the nutrition passes into the midgut where it is stored until it can be passed to the hindgut. In the midgut, most of the nutrition is absorbed. The hindgut houses the intestines, rectum, and anus which expel the waste products (Hickman et al 2009).

The adult stage of a fishfly's life marks a large shift in eating habits. Instead of relying on detritus or aquatic insects, the fishfly is now terrestrial. They convert their diet to strictly plant juices or plant tissues. This is exemplified by their attraction to sugar water. The reliance on plant tissues and juices for food is described as phytophagous.
Since adults rarely live longer than a week, not much can be said of their eating habits. Their digestive system remains unchanged from the larval stage, so the same digestive processes are involved (Hickman et al 2009).

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