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the web of life in southern Africa

Plecoptera (stoneflies)

Life > Eukaryotes > Opisthokonta > Metazoa (animals) > Bilateria > Ecdysozoa > Panarthropoda > Tritocerebra > Phylum: Arthopoda > Mandibulata > Atelocerata > Panhexapoda > Hexapoda > Insecta (insects) > Dicondyla > Pterygota > Metapterygota > Neoptera > Polyneoptera > Anartioptera > Plecopterida

Stonefly adult, Aphanicerca sp. (family: Notonemouridae)

Stonefly adult Aphanicerca sp. (family: Notonemouridae). [photo Hamish Robertson]

Stoneflies, like mayflies, dragonflies and damselflies, have aquatic nymphal stages. The nymphs can usually be distinguished from mayfly nymphs by having two rather than three filaments protruding from the end of the abdomen (ie. they have paired cerci but no median caudal filament). They are usually found in fast-flowing streams with clean water and live among and under the rocks. After they have completed their development, they crawl out of the water, fasten themselves to the side of a rock, and moult into the adult stage. The female usually lays her eggs by dropping them into the water and letting them be dispersed by the flow of the stream.

Recommended easy reading

  • Skaife, S.H. 1979. African Insect Life. Struik, Cape Town, pp. 66-67.


  • Zwick, P. 2000. Phylogenetic system and zoogeography of the Plecoptera. Annual Review of Entomology 45: 709-746.