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Light Rusty Spinners

Like most common names, "Light Rusty Spinner" can refer to more than one taxon. They're previewed below, along with 5 specimens. For more detail click through to the scientific names.

Mayfly Species Baetis bicaudatus

These are very rarely called Light Rusty Spinners.
Baetis bicaudatus is a western taxon of some local importance.
Baetis bicaudatus (BWO) Mayfly NymphBaetis bicaudatus (BWO) Mayfly Nymph View 5 PicturesHere I'm just copying and pasting, without cleaning up, my notes from spending a long time with this one under the microscope (and keying with Merritt & Cummins 5th Ed) only to end up confirming the most likely guess.

7. Baetis bicaudatus nymph
1. Hind wingpad present but small and hidden beneath forewing pad
2. Segment 2 of labial palp (
The palp on the maxilla of an Ephemerella nymph (detached and photographed under a microscope) is highlighted in red here.
The palp on the maxilla of an Ephemerella nymph (detached and photographed under a microscope) is highlighted in red here.
Palp: A long, thin, often segmented appendage which can protrude from certain insect mouth parts such as the maxillae. Also known as the < />palpus.
)
with well-developed medially projecting corner —> Baetis (couple 44)…. BUT no sign of scale-like setae (Seta: Little hairs on insects.) on abdominal terga (Tergum: the dorsal part of an abdominal segment or segments (terga). Also used to describe the entire abdominal dorsum or the thoracic dorsal segments of Odonata.). Conflicts at this couplet.
3. Gills on segments I-VII
4. Tarsal claws (Tarsal claw: The claws at the tip of the tarsus, on an insect's "foot.") with denticles (
The denticles on the tarsal claw of this Ephemerella nymph are highlighted in red.
The denticles on the tarsal claw of this Ephemerella nymph are highlighted in red.
Denticle: Small tooth-like projects, often appearing like serrations on the tarsal claws of certain mayfly nymphs.
)
, seemingly 2 rows but very hard to tell… and the key options with 2 rows don’t make sense
5. Assuming no villipore, we land confidently at couplet 48
6. Leads to Fallceon, except antennal scape doesn’t have robust setae (Seta: Little hairs on insects.)
7. Treated as Baetis, leads to brunneicolor, but McDunnough et al 1932 (Can Ent 64) suggests middle tail should be 5/6 as long as outer ones
8. Keys VERY confidently to couplet 36 in M&C (villipore)
9. If assuming villipore present:
1. 37 —> Scape of anntenae has no distal (Distal: Far from the point of attachment or origin; near the tip.) lobe —> rules out Labiobaetis (100 % certain)
2. 38 —> Terminal filament much shorter than cerci (Cercus: The left and right "tails" of an insect are known as the cerci or caudal cerci. The middle tail of a three-tailed insect is not.) —> not Barbaetis benfieldi (100 % certain)
3. 39 —> Terminal filament reduced (100 % certain)
4. 40 —> Tarsal claw (Tarsal claw: The claws at the tip of the tarsus, on an insect's "foot.") dentical count couplet. If two rows of denticles (
The denticles on the tarsal claw of this Ephemerella nymph are highlighted in red.
The denticles on the tarsal claw of this Ephemerella nymph are highlighted in red.
Denticle: Small tooth-like projects, often appearing like serrations on the tarsal claws of certain mayfly nymphs.
)
: Either Iswaeon or Heterocloeon. Can’t be Iswaeon because cerci (Cercus: The left and right "tails" of an insect are known as the cerci or caudal cerci. The middle tail of a three-tailed insect is not.) lack dark median band. Can’t be heterocloeon because it’s not in the Platte drainage or in Texas. Thus, it must be one row of denticles (
The denticles on the tarsal claw of this Ephemerella nymph are highlighted in red.
The denticles on the tarsal claw of this Ephemerella nymph are highlighted in red.
Denticle: Small tooth-like projects, often appearing like serrations on the tarsal claws of certain mayfly nymphs.
)
. Moving on to 42.
5. 42 —> Hind wing pads (
The wing pads on this final instar Baetidae mayfly nymph are extremely dark.
The wing pads on this final instar Baetidae mayfly nymph are extremely dark.
Wing pad: A protrusion from the thorax of an insect nymph which holds the developing wings. Black wing pads usually indicate that the nymph is nearly ready to emerge into an adult.
)
present (100 % certain)
6. 44 —> Segment 2 of labial palpi with well-developed medially projecting corner (80 % certain), scale-like setae (Seta: Little hairs on insects.) not evident on terga (Tergum: the dorsal part of an abdominal segment or segments (terga). Also used to describe the entire abdominal dorsum or the thoracic dorsal segments of Odonata.) but maybe limitation of my scope —> Baetis (alternative would be Acentrella, but pronotum (Pronotum: The top of the insect prothorax.) shape is all wrong for those, although not an official characteristic)
7. CONFIDENT in Baetis bicaudatus after distinctive leg markings (J-shaped light mark on first femur (
The femur of this Isonychia bicolor mayfly spinner is highlighted in red.
The femur of this Isonychia bicolor mayfly spinner is highlighted in red.
Femur: The main segment of an insect's leg close to the body, in between the tibia and the trochanter.
)
, L-shaped on second and third) matches original species description to a tee.
Collected August 4, 2020 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on August 20, 2020

Mayfly Species Baetis tricaudatus

These are very rarely called Light Rusty Spinners.
Baetis tricaudatus is undeniably the most widespread and abundant baetid on the continent and arguably the most important mayfly species to trout and anglers alike. Eastern anglers used to know these important mayflies by the storied name of Baetis vagans. Conversely, the usually much larger and late Fall hatching brood of Baetis tricaudatus was considered an important Western species with its own tradition. But, entomologists recently determined that they are both in fact the same species. The nomenclature conventions guiding entomologists do not account for a name's regional fame among fishermen, and new or obscure species names may replace their old favorites. Sometimes taxa with disparate traditions are combined. Baetis vagans is one such casualty. Fortunately, trout think like Shakespeare: A rose by any other name would smell as sweet. The rose that was vagans has lost none of its charm. This species is multibrooded (Multibrooded: Producing more than one generation in a single year. Baetis mayflies are a classic example. Insects which produce a single generation with two distinct peaks (like the June and September hatches of Isonychia bicolor mayflies) are not multibrooded, because the fall insects are offspring from the previous fall instead of the current year's spring.) with the hatches of Spring being larger flies. As the weather warms the following broods are composed of progressively smaller flies. In the East, they range in size from 16 to 20. In the West, they may run a size larger.
Baetis tricaudatus (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly NymphBaetis tricaudatus (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Nymph View 20 PicturesA nymph of the same species as this one emerged into a dun in my studio so I got photos of both stages.

NOTE: I missed an important key characteristic the first time I tried to identify this one (robust setae (Seta: Little hairs on insects.) on the abdominal sternites (
One sternite of this Isonychia bicolor mayfly spinner is highlighted in red.
One sternite of this Isonychia bicolor mayfly spinner is highlighted in red.
Sternite: The bottom (ventral) part of a single segment on an insect's abdomen.
)
, which were harder to see than I expected but are clearly present), so I went on a bit of a wild goose chase and landed at a dead end. After spotting that characteristic, this one keys more straightforwardly to either Baetis tricaudatus or the Baetis piscatoris complex. It doesn't seem to be a perfect fit for either one in the key, but I'm going with tricaudatus based on range and abundance. It's not certain.

However, I'm leaving the flawed analysis below with this disclaimer, because some aspects of how I approached that dead end might be informative in the future.

----Incorrect analysis below----

After spending a lot of time with this one under my shiny new microscope, I'm still not quite sure what it is. I botched my attempt to expose the mouth parts that might make the ID more definitive. Based on the key in Webb et al 2018's "Baetis Larvae of North America," here's my reasoning at each key couplet.

Couplet 1. The pronotum (Pronotum: The top of the insect prothorax.) lacks dark, submedian U-shaped markings. Also, if I were to follow through to couplet 2, there seem to be characteristics that rule out each of the options: the intercalaris complex is ruled out by the abdominal markings, and the caudal (Caudal: Toward the posterior tip of the body.) filaments have neither a dark median band (ruling out the flavistriga complex) nor uniform pale coloration (ruling out Baetis notos). This sends me with decent confidence to couplet 4.

Couplet 4. I cannot find robust setae (Seta: Little hairs on insects.) in my microscope on the scapes, pedicels, paraprocts, or sterna. I also do not see a pair of dark, bilobed markings on the pronotum (Pronotum: The top of the insect prothorax.). Unless I overlooked these characteristics, proceed to couplet 9.

Couplet 9. Abdominal tergum (Tergum: the dorsal part of an abdominal segment or segments (terga). Also used to describe the entire abdominal dorsum or the thoracic dorsal segments of Odonata.) 5 is a bit paler than adjacent terga (Tergum: the dorsal part of an abdominal segment or segments (terga). Also used to describe the entire abdominal dorsum or the thoracic dorsal segments of Odonata.), but "distinctly paler"? The figure for Baetis alius in the paper, as well as a very nice picture posted by Millcreek in the forum here, shows that Baetis alius would have darker tergites (
One tergite of this Isonychia bicolor mayfly spinner is highlighted in red.
One tergite of this Isonychia bicolor mayfly spinner is highlighted in red.
Tergite: The top (dorsal) part of a single segment on an insect's abdomen when it consists of a single chitinous plate (sclerite), or an individual sclerite if the segment has more than one.
)
surrounding #5. So proceed to couplet 11.

Couplet 11. The length of the gills is obviously less than 2X their width. This leads to the Baetis vernus complex, which could include that species or Baetis brunneicolor. This key doesn't say how to tell those species apart.

Switching over to Burien et al 2018 as the source, the characteristics used to distinguish vernus from brunneicolor seem to rule out either one. Brunneicolor should have more uniformly brown abdominal tergites (
One tergite of this Isonychia bicolor mayfly spinner is highlighted in red.
One tergite of this Isonychia bicolor mayfly spinner is highlighted in red.
Tergite: The top (dorsal) part of a single segment on an insect's abdomen when it consists of a single chitinous plate (sclerite), or an individual sclerite if the segment has more than one.
)
, whereas vernus should have a lack of visible tracheation in most of the gills.

The fore femur (
The femur of this Isonychia bicolor mayfly spinner is highlighted in red.
The femur of this Isonychia bicolor mayfly spinner is highlighted in red.
Femur: The main segment of an insect's leg close to the body, in between the tibia and the trochanter.
)
length is about 3.8x its width.

Also worth noting: In the genus ID, I thought I could see the villipore in my microscope, but I'm not sure. If I back out of Baetis altogether and assume there's no villipore, I end up at Fallceon, but this specimen doesn't seem to have the frontal keel on the head that's supposed to be present on Fallceon quilleri. So that seems like a dead end as well.
Collected September 12, 2020 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on September 19, 2020
Male Baetis tricaudatus (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly DunMale Baetis tricaudatus (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Dun View 8 PicturesThis male was associated with a female of the same species.
Collected April 3, 2007 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on April 3, 2007
Male Baetis tricaudatus (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly SpinnerMale Baetis tricaudatus (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Spinner View 1 Pictures
Collected April 15, 2010 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on June 27, 2011
Male Baetis tricaudatus (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly AdultMale Baetis tricaudatus (Blue-Winged Olive) Mayfly Adult View 2 Pictures
Collected May 16, 2012 from in
Added to Troutnut.com by on May 18, 2012
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