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Stoneflies - Plecoptera: Chloroperlidae of Gunnison County, Colorado

Paraperla frontalis
Hyporheic Sallfly

(Banks, 1902)
Updated 18 Mar 2021
TSN 103234


Large for a chloroperlid. Pale and thin with eyes set very far forward. The illustration on the right is from Needham and Claassen's classic stonefly study published in 1925.


Creeks, rivers and cold lakes. Nymphs live in the hyporheic zone of rivers and floodplains. The hyporheic zone is the water between the bottom of the stream and the groundwater. This habitat can extend horizontally underneath the floodplain for some distance. Hidden from the surface for most of the year, nymphs are collected near emergence in surface water and from wells at other times of the year.

Life History

Dewalt and Stewart (1995) collected nymphs infrequently in winter months among marginal substrates of streams. Less than 10 adults were collected in early June during the 3 year study on the Rio Conejos river. Baumann et al (1977) note that adults can be collected from April to early August.

Locations Collected

Knight and Gaufin (1966) collected this species between 7200 and 9600 feet elevation. Kondratieff and Baumann note that this relatively common species is rarely collected unless you use a beat sheet or examine debris along streams.


The genus Paraperla was previously included in Perlinella. Older publications may refer to this species as Perlinella frontalis.

Good Links

Photos, Map, Museum specimens, DNA - Barcodinglife.org

Paraperla sp. Nymph Photo from the Tree of Life


Banks,N 1902 Notes and descriptions of Perlidae. Canadian Entomologist 34:123-125.
     Described as Perlinella frontalis.

Baumann,RW 1979 Nearctic stonefly genera as indicators of ecological parameters (Plecoptera: Insecta). The Great Basin Naturalist, 39(3) 241-244. PDF
     Quote from page 244: "Chloroperlidae are generally very sensitive to environmental eutrophication and occur only under very favorable conditions. They are generally only found in cold lotic systems. Paraperla frontalis (Banks) has, however, been collected at or near the mouth of several lakes in Glacier National Park and also in the Canadian Rockies."

Baumann,RW, Gaufin,AR and Surdick,RF 1977 The stoneflies (Plecoptera) of the Rocky Mountains. Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 31, 1-208. Page 188.
     Quoted from page 188: "This species is found in creeks, rivers and cold lakes. The adults emerge from April to early August."

DelVecchia,AG; Stanford,JA and Xu,X 2016 Ancient and methane-derived carbon subsidizes contemporary food webs. Nature communications, 7 PDF

DeWalt,RE and Stewart,KW 1995 Life histories of stoneflies (Plecoptera) in the Rio Conejos of southern Colorado. Great Basin Naturalist 55, 1-18. PDF

Jordan,S; DelVecchia,A; Hand,BK; Hayssen,L; Nissley,C; Luikart,G and Stanford,J 2016 Genomic data reveal similar genetic differentiation between invertebrates living under and on a riverine floodplain. bioRxiv, p.044073. PDF

Knight,AW and Gaufin,AR 1966 Altitudinal distribution of stoneflies (Plecoptera) in a Rocky Mountain drainage system. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 39 4, 668-675.

Kondratieff,BC and Baumann,RW 2002 A review of the stoneflies of Colorado with description of a new species of Capnia (Plecoptera: Capniidae). Transactions of American Entomological Society 128 3, 385-401.
     Quoted from pages 394-395: "This is a relatively common species, but adults, especially males, are rarely collected unless by using a beating sheet or examining streamside debris piles along Mountain and Plateau streams and rivers. Nymphs are hyporheic until near emergence."

Malison,RL; DelVecchia,AG; Woods,HA; Hand,BK; Luikart,G and Stanford,JA 2020 Tolerance of aquifer stoneflies to repeated hypoxia exposure and oxygen dynamics in an alluvial aquifer. Journal of Experimental Biology, 223(16). PDF

Malison,RL; Ellis,BK; DelVecchia,AG; Jacobson,H; Hand,BK; Luikart,G; Woods,HA; Gamboa,M; Watanabe,K and Stanford,JA 2020 Remarkable anoxia tolerance by stoneflies from a floodplain aquifer. Ecology, 101(10), p.e03127. PDF
     Abstract: "Alluvial aquifers are key components of river floodplains and biodiversity worldwide, but they contain extreme environmental conditions and have limited sources of carbon for sustaining food webs. Despite this, they support abundant populations of aquifer stoneflies that have large proportions of their biomass carbon derived from methane. Methane is typically produced in freshwater ecosystems in anoxic conditions, while stoneflies (Order: Plecoptera) are thought to require highly oxygenated water. The potential importance of methane-derived food resources raises the possibility that stonefly consumers have evolved anoxia-resistant behaviors and physiologies. Here we tested the anoxic and hypoxic responses of 2,445 stonefly individuals in three aquifer species and nine benthic species. We conducted experimental trials in which we reduced oxygen levels, documented locomotor activity, and measured survival rates. Compared to surface-dwelling benthic relatives, stoneflies from the alluvial aquifer on the Flathead River (Montana) performed better in hypoxic and anoxic conditions. Aquifer species sustained the ability to walk after 4-76 h of anoxia vs. 1 h for benthic species and survived on average three times longer than their benthic counterparts. Aquifer stoneflies also sustained aerobic respiration down to much lower levels of ambient oxygen. We show that aquifer taxa have gene sequences for hemocyanin, an oxygen transport respiratory protein, representing a possible mechanism for surviving low oxygen. This remarkable ability to perform well in low-oxygen conditions is unique within the entire order of stoneflies (Plecoptera) and uncommon in other freshwater invertebrates. These results show that aquifer stoneflies can exploit rich carbon resources available in anoxic zones, which may explain their extraordinarily high abundance in gravel-bed floodplain aquifers. These stoneflies are part of a novel food web contributing biodiversity to river floodplains."

Needham,JG and Claassen,PW 1925 A Monograph of the Plecoptera of North America. Entomological Society of America, Lafayette, Indiana. 397 pages.
     Illustration at top of this webpage is from page 129.

Nelson,CH 2009 Surface ultrastructure and evolution of tarsal attachment structures in Plecoptera (Arthropoda: Hexapoda). Aquatic Insects, (31)523-545. Html
     The author used scanning electron microscopy (SEM) to image the plantar surfaces of the stonefly tarsomeres and pretarsus of Paraperla frontalis and a number of other species.

Newell,RL; Baumann,RW and Stanford,JA 2008 Stoneflies of Glacier National Park and Flathead River basin, Montana. International Advances in the ecology, zoogeography, and systematics of mayflies and stoneflies. University of California Publications in Entomology, Berkeley and Los Angeles, pp.173-186. PDF
     Quote from page 176: "Stoneflies recorded from hyporheic habitats (pumped wells) included: Alloperla severa, Capnia confusa, Claassenia sabulosa, Diura knowltoni, Hesperoperla pacifica, Isocapnia crinita, I. grandis, I. integra, I. vedderensis, Isoperla fulva, Kathroperla, Paraperla frontalis, and P. wilsoni"

Radford,DS and Hartland-Rowe,R 1971 Emergence patterns of some Plecoptera in two mountain streams in Alberta. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 49(5), 657-662.

Sandberg,JB and Stewart,KW 2003 Continued studies of drumming in North American Plecoptera; Evolutionary implications. In: Research Update on Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera. Ed: Gaino,E University of Perugia, Perugia, Italy, 73-81.
PDF Has the sonogram of a three-way duet between two males and a female P. frontalis from the San Miguel River near Placerville over in San Miguel County, Colorado.

Stanford,JA and Gaufin,AR 1974 Hyporheic communities of two Montana rivers. Science 185:700-702. PDF
     The authors report P. frontalis from the hyporheic zone of the Flathead River in Montana, USA. Figure 1 is a photo of P. frontalis nymphs from the hyporheic zone of the Tobacco River. From nymph collections, they report that P. frontalis spends 2 or 3 years in the hyporheic zone growing to nearly 2cm in length before emerging as adults.

Stanford,JA and Ward,JV 1993 An ecosystem perspective of alluvial rivers: connectivity and the hyporheic corridor. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 48-60.

Stark,BP; Baumann,RW; Kondratieff,BC and Stewart,KW 2013 Larval and egg morphology of Paraperla frontalis (Banks 1902) and P. wilsoni Ricker 1965 (Plecoptera: Chloroperlidae). Illiesia 9(08):101-108. PDF
     Abstract:Eggs and larvae of Paraperla frontalis (Banks) and P. wilsoni Ricker are described from scanning electron micrographs. The eggs of both species are coarsely punctate over the entire chorion except for a narrow ring which surrounds the sessile collar, however, punctations are larger and more conspicuous on P. frontalis eggs. Larvae of P. wilsoni are similar to those of P. frontalis, but lack the lacinial pecten row and vertical cercal fringe found in the latter species.

Stewart,KW and Ricker,WE 1997 The stoneflies of the Yukon. pgs 201-222 in Danks,HV and Downes,JA (Eds.), Insects of the Yukon. Biological Survey of Canada (Terrestrial Arthropods), Ottawa. 1034 pp.
     Quote about the genus Parapela from page 213: "Western Nearctic; the 2 species occur from the Yukon to California and New Mexico. Adults are brown, 16-20 mm. They emerge March-August, depending on elevation and latitude. Nymphs occur in the hyporheal beneath and beside larger streams, and are collected in surface layers only just prior to emergence. Nymph sizes before and after emergence suggest 2-3 year, semivoltine life cycles. "

Stewart,KW and Stark,BP 2002 Nymphs of North American Stonefly Genera. 2nd edition The Caddis Press, Columbus, Ohio. 510 pages. Illustrations of nymph on pages 266-267, figures 11.11-11.12

Stewart,KW and Zeigler,DD 1984 Drumming behavior of twelve North American stonefly (Plecoptera) species: First descriptions in Peltoperlidae, Taeniopterygidae and Chloroperlidae. Aquatic Insects. 6(1) 49 - 61. Abstract
     Part of abstract: " Both chloroperlids, Kathroperla perdita and Paraperla frontalis, had di-phasic male calls, with 6.1 ± 0.7 and 74 ± 10.6 beats, respectively, in the first phases, and with distinctly different beat intervals. "

Zwick,P 2006 New family characters of larval Plecoptera, with an analysis of the Chloroperlidae: Paraperlinae. Aquatic Insects, 28:13-22.
     Abstract: "Larval structures diagnostic of several Plecoptera families, subfamilies or genera are described and illustrated. They concern the following: distinction of larval Leuctridae from Capniidae; an additional apomorphy of Nemouridae; a synapomorphy of Perlidae and Perlodidae; monophyly of each of the two subfamilies of Chloroperlidae, and the generic limits among Chloroperlidae: Paraperlinae. Paraperla lepnevae Zhiltzova is transferred to Utaperla. Some comments on Notonemouridae are included."

Brown, WS 2004 Stoneflies of Gunnison County, Colorado