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Stoneflies - Plecoptera: Nemouridae of Gunnison County, Colorado

Zapada cinctipes
Common Forestfly, Winter Black stonefly, Little Sepia Stonefly

(Banks) 1897

Updated 20 Oct 2020
TSN 102594


Common in streams, seeps, wetlands, alpine ponds and large rivers. Baumann et al (1977) mentioned this stonefly has excellent dispersal behavior.

Locations Collected

East River, Copper Creek, Blue Creek, Cimmarron River, East Elk Creek, Red Creek. Often found with Zapada haysi. Common in northern Colorado.


The genus Zapada was previously named Nemoura. Older publications may refer to this species as Nemoura cinctipes.

Good Links

On this website:
Introduction to the Zapada

Other Websites:
Adult photo from the Tree of Life http://tolweb.org/tree/eukaryotes/animals/arthropoda/hexapoda/plecoptera/slideshows/pleco2/sld008.htm

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

Zapada cinctipes wing showing the classic "Neumoridae X" on the top part of the wing.


Banks, N. 1897 New North american neuropteroid insects. Transactions of the American Entomological Society 24:21-31.
     Described as Nemoura cinctipes.

Baumann, RW Gaufin, AR, Surdick, RF 1977: The stoneflies (Plecoptera) of the Rocky Mountains. Memoirs of the American Entomological Society 31, 1-208.
     Quote from page 43: "This species is common throughout western North America. It has been collected in all of the Rocky Mountain States except Arizona. This species usually emerges from February to August, but has been collected in all months of the year in some localities." They mention Zapada cinctipes is present in Gunnison County, Colorado.

Bottorff,RL and Bottorff,LD 2007 Phenology and diversity of adult stoneflies (Plecoptera) of a small coastal stream, California. Illiesia 3(1):1-9 Pdf 292Kb

Cather,MR and Arden R. Gaufin,AR 1976 Comparative ecology of three Zapada species of Mill Creek, Wasatch Mountains, Utah (Plecoptera: Nemouridae). American Midland Naturalist 95(2) 464-471.
     Abstract: " Three species of Zapada (Plecoptera) were studied in Mill Creek, Wasatch Mountains, Utah, and their life histories, growth rates, distribution and emergence compared. All species, Z. haysi (Ricker), Z. cinctipes (Banks) and Z. columbiana (Claassen) have a univoltine life history and a slow seasonal life cycle.
Temporal and spatial distributions and staggered emergence periods serve to ecologically separate these species. All three grow most rapidly in autumn and early winter, with a seasonal succession in the maximum absolute growth rates. Maximum size overlap between Zapada haysi and Z. cinctipes occurs in spring prior to and during emergence when growth is complete, whereas minimum overlap occurs in autumn when growth is fastest. Zapada haysi and Z. columbiana were found more at the upper cooler stations and Z. cinctipes at the lower stations. Zapada cinctipes was collected from late February to late June (one ♀ in mid-January), Z. columbiana mostly in March and Z. haysi from early April to mid-June.
The mean size of the adults of Zapada cinctipes decreased as emergence progressed and may be related to increasing stream temperatures and photoperiod."

Chaloner,DT and Wipfli,MS 2002 Influence of decomposing Pacific salmon carcasses on macroinvertebrate growth and standing stock in southeastern Alaska streams. Journal of the North American Benthological Society, 21(3) 430-442.
     Abstract: " We compared macroinvertebrate growth rates and standing stock in the absence and presence of meat from Pacific salmon (Oncorhynchus spp.) carcasses in microcosm and natural stream rearing experiments in southeastern Alaska. In microcosm experiments, the presence of salmon meat increased growth rates and standing stock for the shredder Zapada cinctipes and the collector Psychoglypha subborealis, but not the predator Rhyacophila sp., or the scraper Cinygmula sp. In natural stream experiments, the presence of salmon meat increased the growth rate and standing stock of P. subborealis, but increased only the growth rate of Z. cinctipes. Macroinvertebrate responses to inputs of salmon-derived organic material can vary by species, which may reflect their feeding ecology. Macroinvertebrate taxa belonging to the collector functional-feeding group are likely to be important in transferring the effects of spawning salmon to the rest of the food web in southeastern Alaska streams."

Clements,WH; Carlisle,DN; Lazorchak,JM; Johnson,PC 2000 Heavy metals structure benthic communities in Colorado mountain streams. Ecological Applications 10(2)626-638. Abstract

Duffield,RM and Nelson,CH 1998 Stoneflies (Plecoptera) in the diet of brook trout (Salvelinus fontinalis Mitchell) in Libby Creek, Wyoming, USA. Hydrobiologia 380, 59-65.

Gaufin,AR; Clubb,R and Newell,R 1974 Studies on the tolerance of aquatic insects to low oxygen concentrations. Great Basin Naturalist 34:45-59. PDF
      The authors studied the acute short term tolerance of aquatic insects to low oxygen. They used the 96 hour Median Tolerance Limit. They discuss Zapada cinctipes as Nemoura cinctipes. The TLm96 for Z. cinctipes was 3.3mg/l and 29% oxygen saturation.

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 page 392: It is difficult to imagine a stonefly species that can occur in so many different lotic and even lentic habitats. Although it is most common in small streams, it occurs in seeps, wetlands, alpine ponds and large rivers. Zapada cinctipes has been collected from several localities in Colorado nearly every month.

Knight,AW; Gaufin,AR 1966 Altitudinal distribution of stoneflies (Plecoptera) in a Rocky Mountain drainage system. Journal of the Kansas Entomological Society 39 4, 668-675.
     Discussed as Nemoura cinctipes. Found from about 7000 to 8400 feet elevation in their study of the upper Gunnison Drainge in the early 1960s, they felt this was a stenothermic group limited to lower altitudes.

Mihuc,TB; Mihuc,JR 1995 Trophic ecology of five shredders in a Rocky Mountain stream. Journal of Freshwater Ecology 10 3, 209-216. PDF
     Abstract: " The trophic ecology of five shredder taxa found in Mink Creek, Idaho was determined in laboratory food quality experiments to assess the obligate or facultative nature of resource utilization among lotic taxa commonly referred to as detritivores. The experiments tested resource assimilation for each taxon among three major resources available to primary consumers in streams; periphyton, fine particulate detrital material (FPM) and coarse particulate detrital material (CPM). Growth of each taxon was determined on each resource in laboratory experiments conducted at 10° C.
Growth results indicate that only one of the five taxa (middle-late instar Dicosmoecus atripes) was an obligate CPM detritivore. The remaining four taxa (Amphinemura banksi, Lepidostoma sp., Podmosta delicatula, and Zapada cinctipes) were generalists capable of growth on at least two of the three resource types. All four generalists exhibited growth on periphyton and CPM resources suggesting that these taxa can utilize both autochthonous and allochthonous resources. Our results do not support the idea that taxa with similar mouthpart morphology, specifically shredders, exhibit similar trophic relationships."

Muchow,CL and Richardson,JS 1999 Unexplored diversity: macroinvertebrates in coastal British Colombia headwater streams. In Proceedings of a Conference on the Biology and Management of Species and Habitats at Risk, Kamloops, BC (2) 503-506. PDF
      The authors studied the emergence of adult stoneflies from intermittant and continuously flowing streams in British Columbia. They found that Zapada cinctipes emerged from both permanent and intermittant streams, even when the intermittant streams had no surface flow.

Needham,JG and Claassen,PW 1925 A Monograph of the Plecoptera of North America. Entomological Society of America, Lafayette, Indiana. 397 pages.
     Discussed as Nemoura cinctipes.

Obernborfer,RY; McArthur,JV; Barnes,JR and Dixon,J 1984 The effect of invertebrate predators on leaf litter processing in an alpine stream. Ecology, 65(4), pp.1325-1331.
     Abstract: " The effect of the predators Megarcys signata (Plecoptera: Perlodidae) and Rhyacophila sp. (Trichoptera: Rhyacophilidae) on the abundance of macroinvertebrates and on the rates of leaf processing in artificial leaf packs was studied by using manipulative field experiments. Predators were confined within artificially constructed leaf packs in an alpine stream in Utah. Both predators significantly reduced the rate of breakdown of leaves in the fall, but had no effect in late winter, when the most important shredder, Zapada cinctipes, emerges, Predation on shredders caused a reduction in breakdown rates and an increase in the residence time of the leaf litter in the stream. In experimental treatments where predators significantly reduced the numbers of shredders and decreased the rate of leaf processing, leaf pack half-life increased an average of 10.3 d. These experiments demonstrate that invertebrate shredders can contribute substantially to the rate of leaf processing in streams and suggest that one of the factors limiting the abundance of natural shredder population is predation."

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

Radford,DS and Hartland-Rowe,R 1971b The life cycles of some stream insects (Ephemeroptera, Plecoptera) in Alberta. The Canadian Entomologist, 103(4) 609-617.
     Names have changed since 1971:
1971 Name 2020 Name
Nemoura besametsa Prostoia besametsa
Epeorus deceptivus Epeorus deceptivus
Epeorus longimanus Epeorus longimanus
Ephemerella coloradensis Drunella coloradensis
Arcynopteryx aurea Perlinodes aurea
Nemoura cinctipes Zapada cinctipes
Nemoura columbiana Zapada columbiana
Nemoura oregonensis Zapada oregonensis
Cinygmula ramaleyi Cinygmula ramaleyi
Ephemerella doddsi Drunella doddsi
Rhithrogena doddsi Rhithrogena hageni
Abstract: " The life histories of Nemoura besametsa, Epeorus deceptivus, Epeorus longimanus, and Ephemerella coloradensis are described as "fast seasonal" types and Arcynopteryx aurea, Nemoura cinctipes, Nemoura columbiana, Nemoura oregonensis, Cinygmula ramaleyi, Ephemerella doddsi, and Rhithrogena doddsi as "slow seasonal" types according to Hynes´ (1961) classification. All of the species are univoltine with the exception of N. cinctipes which may be bivoltine. There seems to be a correlation between life cycles and food availability. A means of ecological separation in the four Nemoura species is elucidated. Stream temperature was found to influence growth rates."

Richardson, JS 2001 Life cycle phenology of common detritivores from a temperate rainforest stream. Hydrobiologia 455 (1) 87-95. DOI - 10.1023/A:1011943532162
     Abstract: The timing of life cycles, including growth rates, was determined for eight common species of detritivorous insects in a second-order stream in southwestern British Columbia, Canada. Six of the species (Zapada cinctipes, Z. haysi, Malenka californica, M. cornuta, Capnia sp., and Lepidostoma roafi) had simple, univoltine life cycles. The leuctrid stonefly Despaxia augusta has a 2-year life cycle, with an apparent egg diapause of about 6 months. The chironomid Brillia retifinis produced at least three generations per year. The major growth periods for the set of species considered here span the entire year. Adults of several species exhibited seasonal declines in size at emergence, but one species had larger adults as the emergence period proceeded. Closely related taxa had more similar life cycle timing than more distantly related species suggesting a degree of phylogenetic constraint in phenology of their life cycles. The influence of the timing of leaf drop on timing of life cycles for these animals does not fit with proposed scenarios based on fast and slow leaf processing rates.

Shepard, WD. and Stewart KW 1983 Comparative Study of Nymphal Gills in North American Stonefly Genera and a New, Proposed Paradigm of Plecoptera Gill Evolution. Miscellaneous Publications of the Entomological Society of America 13:1-57
     Illustration of nymphal osmobranchiae (gills) on page 34.

Short,RA; Canton,SP and Ward,JV 1980 Detrital processing and associated macroinvertebrates in a Colorado mountain stream. Ecology, 61(4), 727-732. PDF
     Z. cinctipes nymphs were found in all 4 of the plant species used to make leaf packs; alder, willow, aspen and pine.

Short,RA; Ward,JV 1981 Trophic ecology of three winter stoneflies (Plecoptera). American Midland Naturalist 105, 341-347.
     Abstract: " Winter stoneflies (Zapada oregonensis, Z. cinctipes and Capnia confusa) used detritus as a nymphal food almost exclusively and dominated the shredder biomass in a third-order mountain stream in Colorado. Laboratory feeding trials showed that ingestion rates and fecal production were temperature-dependent, although not greatly different between aspen or alder leaf discs. Assimilation efficiency (AE) was not temperature-dependent. Higher AE values for alder indicate that it is superior to aspen as a food source. High consumption rates (ca. 30% of body weight/day) by the shredders, even at low temperatures, would result in the conversion of considerable quantities of leaf litter to finer particles. However, size fraction analysis of egested material indicated that particle size reduction by shredder processing only partially explains detrital composition in a stream dominated by fine-particle feeding detritivores."

Stark,BP; Oblad,BR; Gaufin,AR 1973 An annotated list of the Stoneflies (Plecoptera) of Colorado Part I. Entomological News 84 (9) 269-277.

Stewart,KW and Szczytko,SW 1983 Drift of Ephemeroptera and Plecoptera in two Colorado rivers. Freshwater Invertebrate Biology. 2(3)117-131. PDF

Tozer, W 1979 Underwater behavioural thermoregulation in the adult stonefly, Zapada cinctipes. Nature 281: 566-567.
     Abstract: " Some adult insects survive extremely. low temperatures using various physiological mechanisms. Here I report that the adult stonefly, Zapada cinctipes (Banks) (Plecoptera: Nemouridae), behaviourally thermoregulates at subzero night temperatures by entering the water."

Wendy Brown 2004 Plecoptera or Stoneflies of Gunnison County, Colorado