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TASMANIA'S LARGE GREY DUN

(Tasmanophlebia lacustris)

by Mick Hall
Female Large Grey Dun
Emerging Male Dun T. lacustris                                                  

    Female Dun T. lacustris

Female Spinner, T. Lacustris.  Note the eyes are smaller than the male and the male has longer forelegs & clasps at the base of the tail.  Interestingly the nymph has three setae yet the adults have only two.

The lifecycle of this mayfly is a little unique, as its nymph, that can swim quite rapidly, prefers to crawl out to hatch rather than pop up through the surface.  Donít let this throw you, because it is also very adroit and can pop up if it wishes.  Generally it prefers to climb up the stork of a reed or crawl out onto a rock or weedy outcrop to emerge.

An easy way to quickly identify this little mayfly, apart from its colour, is the size of its secondary wings; they are large in comparison to many of the other species found in Australia.  A size 12 hook would match this mayfly comfortably.

On waters such as Little Pine Lagoon that are very shallow, this means that this mayfly can emerge some way from the shoreline and then with a little fluttering and a bit of assistance with the wind, it can get to shore.  

Little Pine Lagoon

Though there are a number of patterns that have been developed to represent this species, this is the first time that this mayfly has been seen in such clear detail and as you can see, the spinner is not black, as its generic name would imply.  The fact is it is very much a rich black coffee colour with a Bronze Mallard fore-edge to its wings.  This bronze fore-edge is more pronounced on the male spinner than the female.  The true colour of the duns shown is actually a brownish grey and they also lightly feature a rich golden brown mottled fore-edge to the wings but as you can see, it is not as intense as it is on the spinner.

Because of light variation the pic of the female dun is closer to the real colour than the male dun, which has come up a little darker.  The spinners shown are true to colour.
I have asked some of my friends to get to their vices and put their thoughts to fur and feather and over the ensuing months we will add these patterns to this article.

If you have any questions about this article or would like to get involved in tying some representations of the Large Grey Dun or its spinner, contact me at kossiedun@gmail.com

Mick Hall  
 

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All Photos by Mick Hall

Little Pine Lagoon in the Central Highlands of Tasmania is famous for its Dun hatches

Male Spinner T. Lacustris      

Male Dun T. lacustris     
Female Large Grey Dun - pic Mick Hall

The large grey dun and its black spinner, known as the Highland Spinner, are believed to be endemic to Tasmania.  Some of the well known imitations are Peckís Dun, Ash Dun, Possum Emerger and the Black Spinner.

On a recent trip to the magic isle I was fortunate enough to capture a number of very well known Tassie bugs with my digital camera.  These included a couple of hundred shots of Tasmanophlebia lacustris, as named by that famous Australian Entomologist, R.J. Tillyard, way back in 1917.  The Dun he simply called the Large Grey Dun and the Spinner he named the Highland Spinner.  There are plenty of drawings of the dun and its black spinner but try to find a photograph of the real mayfly, I can tell you now, that is near impossible.

From what I can establish this is the first time that the full set of these Mayflies have been photographed.  What is currently known about this species is that it is thought to exist only in Tasmania.  It emerges around late February through to late March and is widespread throughout the highland lakes of Tasmania.  This mayfly belongs to the Family: Oniscigastridae, Genus: Tasmanophlebia, Species: lacustris.  It was originally listed under the Family: Siphlonuridae but in recent times it was shifted over to Oniscigastridae.  To some this may be trivia but it is important to the bug; after all it is his identity!  

Tasmania and its trout fishery is without question Australiaís premier fishery.  It is also the source of many of the fly patterns that are developed today.  The mayflies of Tasmania are an intriguing group of bugs; some are endemic to Tasmania whilst others are found in other states of Australia.  Hopefully over the coming seasons it is my intention to put together a collection of photographs that will represent as close as possible the dominant species of insect life that captivates the eye of the flyflicker as well as old speckles.  Well, that is my goal and only time will tell if I can achieve that objective.