Troutnut.com Fly Fishing for Trout Home
User Password
or register.
Scientific name search:

> > mayfly common names

KonchuNovember 27th, 2006, 9:36 am
Site Editor
Indiana

Posts: 496
Following the "cahill" thread from elsewhere, I thought I'd start a new one.

Do you think that some attempt should be made at a standardization of mayfly common names? Or should they be allowed to remain regional?
TroutnutNovember 27th, 2006, 11:16 am
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2533
I don't think common names should be standardized, at least not in the scientific sense as was done with stoneflies.

I like the idea of coordinating which common names we use for which species, but I don't think that can be accomplished by declaring standards.

I fear that a scientific attempt at standardized common names would involve an unambiguous, unique name for each species. So it would be throwing hundreds or thousands of new names into the already crowded and confusing pool. That's the last thing we need.

Many authors have already tried to do that in recent books by modifying the real common names to set two species apart: "Large Eastern Sulphur" or "Small Eastern Sulphur," for example. Nobody ever picks up a mayfly on the stream and says, "by golly, that's a Small Eastern Sulphur!" They just say "Sulphur" or "dorothea." And that's all we need. We have one easy, short common name everybody understands, and one Latin name to identify the species uniquely. There's no need for a long, cumbersome common name to identify the species uniquely, unless one is both obsessed with species detail and fanatically Latinophobic. If such an angler exists, I have not met him.

I've tried to go strongly in the opposite direction on this site and label each taxon with the common name most often spoken on the stream. (That's a subjective and localized judgement and I'm not the best one to make it, but I've done what I can.) I hope that helps to gradually consolidate the lexicon.
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
GONZONovember 27th, 2006, 2:11 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Konchu-

I doubt that it really matters. It is probably inevitable that as a group of critters receives scientific scrutiny some degree of standardization will occur. That doesn't necessarily influence common usage. The stonefly names are a case in point. They won't appear in many angling discussions because it requires identification to genus or species levels in order to apply them. Few anglers go to this trouble or want to.

Some common names have a charm and history that would be lost if more rigid standards of scientific naming were applied across the board. And some are already fairly specific to either genus or species--names like Hendrikson, Quill Gordon, and March Brown have acquired a fairly specific meaning over time, even though the basis is unscientific. Most of the confusion occurs with vague catch-all names like Cahill, Sulphur, and the ultimate catch-all, Blue-Winged Olive. Nevertheless, these names are so well established that it is unlikely anyone will be able to supplant them with more specific names in the near term. And there will probably always be the "them yeller bugs" school of identification. Specificity in angling terminology is usually driven by what an angler needs or wants to know.
KonchuNovember 28th, 2006, 8:33 am
Site Editor
Indiana

Posts: 496
"Specificity in angling terminology is usually driven by what an angler needs or wants to know."

...or for that matter what the fish needs to know.

Mmm. Yeller bug = tasty. Chomp.

vs.

Ah, I shall compare the nutritional values of Stenacron interpunctatum and S. pallidum and contrast the aesthetics of their external morphology before making a selective trophic decision.

Yeller bug wins every time!
GONZONovember 28th, 2006, 1:39 pm
Site Editor
"Bear Swamp," PA

Posts: 1681
Konchu,

I have encountered a few fish that appeared to be making the latter gastronomic assessment rather than the former--but that is always the way it seems when something about the fly or its presentation doesn't quite match what the fish needs to see. We surely obssess over some of the details to a much greater degree than most fish, but that is not unusual among fanatical devotees of any sport.

In my role as an Examiner for the Professional Ski Instructors of America, I've witnessed many similar examples among ski-addicts. Once, while skiing at Killington during Examiner Training, a bunch of us were gathered on the slope discussing the finer points of how a wedge turn should be demonstrated. (A wedge turn is the modern nomenclature for the elementary maneuver known to many as a snowplow turn.) The discussion was becoming quite complex and even a little heated when my fellow Examiner, Paul Brown, offered this observation: "I'm sure it's a lot simpler than we can make it!" :)
KonchuNovember 28th, 2006, 6:13 pm
Site Editor
Indiana

Posts: 496
BACK on TOPIC:

So...standardized common names for mayflies probably aren't necessary. Anybody disagree?
TaxonNovember 28th, 2006, 9:58 pm
Site Editor
Plano, TX

Posts: 1291
Do you think that some attempt should be made at a standardization of mayfly common names? Or should they be allowed to remain regional?


Konchu-

It seems to me that standardizing something may be the easy part. Achieving widespread acceptance of that standard is somewhat more difficult. One example which comes to mind, is the effort to convert USA to the metric system of measures. I suspect attempting to standard common names for mayflies, while many fly fishers are hard pressed to understand the difference between "common names" for the actual insect, and "pattern names" for the imitations, is unlikely to achieve much acceptance. On the other hand, good ideas are often greeted with skepticism, so who knows.
Roger Rohrbeck
www.FlyfishingEntomology.com
LittleJNovember 29th, 2006, 5:24 pm
Hollidaysburg Pa

Posts: 251
I think the problem isn't insect classification(common or scientific) it's in the patterns. To often anglers (myself included...as i learned in the cahills post) learn patterns first then try to decipher what insect works for the pattern. Thus creating 10 million common names. If you reversed the order and learned your bugs first(scientific names) than found a pattern to suit your situation the problem would be eliminated. Maybe I'm being an idealist but i don't see the sense in creating two standards. Much like you can chose to either give directions to your house by saying "turn left at the brick house" or you can give a street name, both work, but one is standard and less confusing in my opinion.
Jeff
KonchuNovember 30th, 2006, 8:52 am
Site Editor
Indiana

Posts: 496
LittleJ, your distinction between the patterns and the bugs is an important one.

A standardized set of common names could be created for the actual mayflies that wouldn't impact flyfishers. But then, is this necessary, and if so, who for?
TroutnutNovember 30th, 2006, 9:48 am
Administrator
Bellevue, WA

Posts: 2533
A standardized set of common names could be created for the actual mayflies that wouldn't impact flyfishers. But then, is this necessary, and if so, who for?


Exactly. Entomologists seem to be fine with the scientific names, and any attempt to standardize common names would impact anglers, even if it wasn't intended to. Some faction of anglers would almost certainly try to use them, adding another confusing layer to the mix.

Another down side is that it would take me days to enter them all into this website's database and link them up with the appropriate species!
Jason Neuswanger, Ph.D.
Troutnut and salmonid ecologist
KonchuNovember 30th, 2006, 6:12 pm
Site Editor
Indiana

Posts: 496
But with common names, we'd all know how to pronounce them, or at least agree to an acceptable range. (I've been lurking in the "latin names of bugs" thread.

Quick Reply

You have to be logged in to post on the forum. It's this easy:
Username:          Email:

Password:    Confirm Password:

I am at least 13 years old and agree to the rules.

Related Discussions

TitleRepliesLast Reply
Re: Latin Help
In General Discussion by Shawnny3
4Jul 20, 2006
by Shawnny3
Re: White Miller Bug
In the Caddisfly Species Nectopsyche albida by MIKE54
3May 4, 2013
by Adirman
Re: i posted this in the forum, but...
In the Insect Order Ephemeroptera by Rckrego
1Apr 18, 2007
by Troutnut
Re: Kennebago Mayfly
In the Identify This! Board by Kennebago
3Jan 10, 2012
by Entoman
Re: Match the hatch........... general guidelines
In General Discussion by Quillgordon
12Apr 11, 2007
by Taxon
Re: Heptageniidae Family breakup ???
In the Mayfly Family Heptageniidae by Quillgordon
14Mar 24, 2009
by GONZO
Re: Baetis doesn't look like a BWO!!
In Female Baetis Mayfly Dun by Adirman
10Sep 12, 2010
by Martinlf
Re: Caddis sedge
In Fly Tying by FredH
5Sep 1, 2012
by Entoman
Re: Caddis larvae vs Mayfly nymph:whats the major difference?
In General Discussion by Adirman
6Apr 17, 2013
by Sayfu
Mayflies DVD Review
In Fly Tying by Adirman
0
Most Recent Posts
Re: Caddis on a zig zag
In General Discussion by TDMunro (Partsman replied)
Re: Fly Tying Vise
In Gear Talk by William99 (DocWet replied)
Re: Rhyacophila betteni group
In Rhyacophila Caddisfly Larva by Creno
Re: This appears to be Dixa sp.
In Dixa True Fly Larva by Creno (Jmd123 replied)
Re: The boys were back in town, Chapter 4 part II
In the Photography Board by Jmd123
Re: The boys were back in town, Chapter 4: new digs, new waters, new fish!
In the Photography Board by Jmd123
Psocodea
In Psocodea Insect Adult by Creno
Rhyacophila hyalinata group
In Rhyacophila vocala Caddisfly Larva by Creno
Re: Don't think it is Gumaga........
In Lepidostoma Little Brown Sedge Larva by Creno (Troutnut replied)
New Instagram account
In Site Updates by Troutnut