Article Index

Ephemerella grandis is, like the rest of us, a sex fiend. From the moment he sheds his heavy, heinous body of youth, his thoughts are dominated by mayfly fornication-drake nookie, if you will. He can't sleep. He can't eat. He can do nothing but flutter about on the breezes of desire, looking above the river for his one true love-or, if he's lucky, a couple of them.

All creatures are, in a way, sex fiends. They must be at some point simply to keep their species in the game. But E. grandis, commonly known as the Western Green Drake, pays one hell of a price for it. He is the All Star sex fiend-for after he does the deed, he's done. His life is over, and we don't mean figuratively. No wonder he does it in midair. The poor guy has no friends when he begins his courtship, surrounded as he is by dozens of others with the same goal-sorta like guys in a ski town. Grandis boy figures, and rightly so, that his acquaintances, all just as sex-crazed, would stab him in the back before they'd help him get laid. Grab a lady and make it happen-that's the name of the game.


Image:Brian O'Keefe

His is the typical mayfly life: Parents died when he was only an egg so the poor little orphaned bastard crawls around in the mud for a few months, then, after struggling on the surface to avoid being eaten while simultaneously shedding his skin (the equivalent of peeling off wet, half-frozen neoprenes beneath a crouching cougar), he gets to go sit on a branch, perform the getting-out-of-the-neoprenes trick again, then try to score while 1,000 others in his prenuptial mating swarm try to do the same thing. He's oblivious to most of this, of course, what with his mind in the gutter and all. (Incidentally, Mr. Mayfly is the only insect on earth that sheds his skin a second time after developing working wings.)

Once he hatches from the surface, he flies dangerously down over the current seam, risking translucent wing and tail filament, dodging bank swallows and dragonflies, gazing across the scum of backwater or under that bush, looking for love in all the wrong places. For in those places are the lairs of fat trout, who don't give a damn about the mayfly's need for procreation. They're just hungry.


If E. grandis were a family man, he might be upset or even vengeful that those trout had already slurped up hundreds of his brothers and sisters. But he can't be provoked because he isn't a family man, he's a slut. All he cares about is getting some action. It's sad to see a creature put so much effort into such a short adulthood, lasting less than a day, often only a few hours. Especially something so beautiful-his upright wings and long, muscular thorax, flying in dramatic loops and circles above the riffle, trying to catch the eye of a female. Sensitive, innocent, his eyes the color of a mountain lake. He is indeed a fine catch.

"All creatures are, in a way, sex fiends."

Not that he was always a stud. His adulthood was proceeded by a long period of scumming, perusing the bottom of rocks for gooey green slime and other delights. It wasn't a pretty sight but what did he care, he was the fly equivalent of a male second grader, and impressing females ranked somewhere below kickball and crayons. At that point, he was like the fish-he was just hungry.

Then one day, in the middle of a meal, he suddenly ceased being hungry. So he dropped his goo and swam skyward to have a look around. Upon surfacing, his young skin split down his back- he was powerless to stop it. It was as if some large hand was removing his winter jacket to let his naked body feel the pleasant air of spring. Shedding the lifeless skin, he noticed his wings, his ability to breath air, his long beautiful tail, and he climbed up into the grasses next to the river to get some rest before his final hour.

It took him a while to find his true love. She was like the ones he'd always heard about: the stories trickling down about fair-winged duns on the Henry's Fork in June or slender-bodied beauties on the Yellowstone in July or sexy, curvy spinners hovering above the Frying Pan in August. Ah yes, there she was. And after performing their aerial magic, she too would drop to the surface, to lay her eggs before dying. But the male E. grandis, he would just die-softly, quietly and with a smile on his face.

--Matt Hansen recently gave up his job as a reporter to pursue a real career as a river guide.

Comments powered by CComment