The Danish mayfly has been named Insect of the Year for 2021. Photo by Wolfgang Kleinsteuber courtesy of German Entomological Institute
Nov. 27 (UPI) -- The Danish mayfly has been named 2021's Insect of the Year.
A board of trustees established by the German Entomological Institute has named an Insect of the Year every year since 1999, with the aim of honoring an insect species that deserves greater fame for its rarity, its ecological value, aesthetic value -- or even its "ordinariness."
"The Insect of the Year is intended to bring an exemplary species (and insects in general) closer to people," said an announcement from the institute.
According to the institute, the Danish mayfly is distinguished by its life cycle: while mayflies famously live just a few days once they reach maturity, their larvae take one to three years to fully develop.
During that time, they repeatedly shed their skin and develop visible gills, molting 20 to 30 times before becoming capable of flying and mating -- a number far higher than other insect orders.
The fully developed mayfly doesn't have a mouth or an intestine, so the insects have just a few days to reproduce before they die.
"Fortunately, there is no acute danger for our 'insect of the year 2021.' However, due to its special development cycle, the Danish mayfly is dependent on ecologically intact waters with sufficient oxygen content," said Axel Vogel, minister of agriculture, environment and climate protection in Germany's upper house of parliament, the Bundesrat.
Vogel added that comprehensive water protection and preservation are key to protecting the Danish mayfly "and many other organisms."