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Millions of mayflies descend on Wisconsin

Posted on Wednesday, 23 July, 2014 | Comment icon 15 comments

The insects were everywhere. Image Credit: YouTube / WKBT TV
The air was teeming with the insects following a mass hatching from the nearby Mississippi River.
Locals found themselves inundated with swarms of the tiny insects which clung to walls, pavements and pretty much everything else.

Although the larval form of the mayfly can live in the water for several years, once it emerges the adult lives for only 24 hours. During this time its only purpose is to mate and then lay eggs before it dies, paving the way for the next wave of flies to do the same once they are ready to emerge in the future.

While generally harmless to humans the flies can prove to be a problem when they swarm along roads, potentially causing accidents. Some buildings can also end up crawling with so many of the insects that people are unable to gain access.

This year the National Weather Service has reported that there have been so many mayflies in the air that the swarms have been picked up on their radar system.

Source: Smithsonian Magazine | Comments (15)

Tags: Mayflies, Invasion

Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #6 Posted by Eldorado on 23 July, 2014, 19:52
'Mayfly' is too nice a name for those things. I guess 'Smotherbugs' was already taken.
Comment icon #7 Posted by magikgoddess on 23 July, 2014, 22:54
We've all had to deal with them before- just keep your mouth shut when outside and you won't have to worry about accidentally swallowing some of them, lol.
Comment icon #8 Posted by OverSword on 23 July, 2014, 23:03
So glad this doesn't happen around here.
Comment icon #9 Posted by shaddow134 on 24 July, 2014, 3:42
They have been very bad up here as well this year....
Comment icon #10 Posted by quiXilver on 24 July, 2014, 5:58
I had a really intense experience with Mayflies as a kid of eight. We used to spend weekends on my dad's boat along the Mississippi and the St Croix. My sister and I slept in the back of the boat with a bug net around it. One morning I woke up and thought, 'ah it's still dark out, may as well go back to sleep'... woke up a bit later to my older sister screaming as she discovered the boat was covered.... every square inch in Mayflies. They'd hatched over night and completely covered the shoreline for miles. My dad got up, looked around, then told me to go get the anchor and we'd be rid of the b... [More]
Comment icon #11 Posted by maximusnow on 24 July, 2014, 14:21
its not even May? WTC?
Comment icon #12 Posted by paperdyer on 24 July, 2014, 14:49
May flies used to come out ... in May. I'm sure someone will blame "climate change" as the cause.
Comment icon #13 Posted by rashore on 24 July, 2014, 15:53
Mayflies are called such not because of May the month, but rather May the flower. Mayflower, AKA Hawthorn. They tend to emerge around the same time that this plant comes into bloom. Some huge swarms have emerged in late June to mid July, so having a huge swarm like this isn't too uncommon. And it's probably not climate change that brought this on, but rather the polar vortex the area has seen recently. Mayflies do well in the heat, but really thrive in somewhat cooler conditions.
Comment icon #14 Posted by quiXilver on 24 July, 2014, 16:36
We never encountered them in early Spring when I was a kid. It was always mid Summer.
Comment icon #15 Posted by Giggling Panzer on 24 July, 2014, 20:11
Sounds like the beginning of a freaky B-Horror movie.

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