Megaloptera: Dobsonflies, Alderflies and Fishflies

(from the Greek: megas = large + ptera = wings)Megaloptera

Like Neuroptera, Megaloptera have chewing mouthparts, long antennae, and two pairs of membranous wings. Both orders have moderate cross-veins forming many rectangular cells, but Megaloptera lack forked veins along the wing margins. Metamorphosis is complete. Dobsonflies are the largest and most common members of this order, ranging from 1 1/2 to 3 1/2 inches long. The mouthparts of male dobsonflies are enlarged and pincer-like. Larvae of dobsonflies (called hellgrammites) live under rocks at the bottoms of lakes, streams and rivers. They are very distinct looking with gills along the sides of their bodies. Fishermen often use these larvae as bait, although they can inflict a painful bite with their pincers. Adult dobsonflies and alderflies are solitary, noctural, and reside near the water often on adjacent plants.

Note: Some keys place dobsonflies, alderflies, and fishflies (order Megaloptera) into Neuroptera. For Florida 4-H judging purposes, these groups are separate, but other states may combine them.