Mayfly in the Classroom

Blue Winged 0live Spinner f with egg ball
Blue winged olive with eggs. Image: Melvin Grey

Mayfly in the Classroom is a very cheap, simple way to engage children (and grown-ups) with their local streams by collecting nymphs, looking after them in plastic drinks bottles and watching their transformation into adults.

The aim is to connect school children to their local river habitats, using the lifecycle of mayflies to teach the broader themes of biodiversity, ecology and the links between aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity.

Mayfly in the Classroom book

Mayfly in the Classroom is now available from Amazon as a book with basic instructions and extensive supporting information about the habits and biology of mayflies. 

The book provides step-by-step instructions on constructing and using simple, affordable kits to collect, hatch and release aquatic invertebrates. It also introduces essential biological information on the Ephemeroptera (mayflies) and provides lesson plans, example risk assessments and suggested day-planners for rainy or dry weather to help you get the most out of the core activities.

Mayfly in the Classroom is printed and shipped on demand, which means we haven’t wasted resources in printing large numbers and we can keep the book up to date easily.

Front Cover3d 1 resize

Who is Mayfly in the Classroom for?

Initially aimed at years 4 – 6, Mayfly in the classroom (MiC) can now be extended to a much older students with a greater emphasis on science and aquatic ecology. 

The biology of mayflies perfectly illustrates requirements for good aquatic habitat and links aquatic and terrestrial biodiversity; for example, energy that has arisen in the aquatic habitat (i.e. the mayflies themselves) is transferred into the diet of terrestrial predators like birds, bats.

Core activities

  • Assembling mayfly aquariums in class
  • Collecting mayfly nymphs from local streams or rivers and introducing to the aquariums. 
  • Caring for the nearly mature” nymphs of a particular species of mayfly.
  • Recording daily observations on holding conditions, husbandry duties (including feeding and temperature control), adult emergence and nymph survival. 
  • Storing the emerged mayflies in perforated boxes in a fridge until release day”
  • Releasing the emerged nymphs and observing a real mayfly hatch in their local stream, including observations of bird and fish predation.

Timing and duration

From capture to release should take three weeks at most, depending on the species of mayfly and classroom care. Depending on species used and region, the programme can be used at any time from early spring to late autumn. 


Two visits to a local water body to catch and release the mayflies.

Daily care is limited to maintaining water temperature and oxygen content. These tasks can be performed by students. Providing the right substrate is used, no feeding is required.
Two visits to a local water body to catch and release the mayflies.

Links to the National Curriculum

To make life a little easier for teachers, we have linked Mayfly in the Classroom to elements of the National Curriculum for key stages 1 and 2. 

Mayfly in the Classroom can be used to cover a wide range of topics: maths and science and also geography, art and design, PE and PSHE. 

Useful links

Jacobs Mayfly
A mayfly