Pteronarcys california


Pteronarcyidae, also known as giant stoneflies or salmonflies, is a family of the order Plecoptera.

Natural history

There are two genera of Pteronarcyidae; Pteronarcys is found in all of North America, while Pteronarcella is found only in the west. The two genera comprise 10 distinct species, two of which are Pteronarcella. Life cycles range from one year to four years. The name "salmonflies" comes from their role in the diet of salmon and they play an important role in fly fishing. Adults emerge from April to June. The giant stoneflies are very sensitive to stress.

See Pteronarcys california.

Habit and habitat

They live in a lotic-erosional habitat. Larvae of giant stoneflies live in cool streams of small to medium size. They live in leaf and woody debris packs. They prefer swift riffles between cobbles and boulders. Although the Pteronarcyidae are primarily shredders-detritivores, there are some facultative scrapers. They chew and mine through leaf litter. They are intolerant to loss of coarse particulate organic matter that is their diet and habitat.

Movement and other biology

They are classified as crawlers. The larvae move very slowly and pretend to be dead when disturbed. They move their abdomen from side to side when under respiratory duress.


  • Voshell, J.R. A Guide to Common Freshwater Invertebrates of North America. McDonald and Woodward. Blacksburg, Va. 2002.
  • Merritt and Cummins. An Introduction to the Aquatic insects of North America 3rd ed. Kendall Hunt. Dubuque, Iowa. 1996.

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