The Plecoptera are commonly known as stoneflies. There are 3,580 species found on all continents except Antarctica.

Stonefly larvae

Stonefly larvae © Bohringer Friedrich

  • most stoneflies are herbivorous
  • adults usually have wings but are weak flyers
  • both nymph and adult have no more than two cerci and long antennae
  • the nymphs of stoneflies live in unpolluted streams and lakes and remain nymphs for between one and four years

About the name

Plecoptera literally means 'braided wings' and comes from the Greek pleken (to braid) and pteryx (wing).


Cerci are paired appendages found on the rear segment of many insects.