With warmer temperatures comes the escape of many Minnesotans back into the outdoors, but of course, we aren’t the only ones that will be outside. Minnesota is often said to have two seasons when it comes to the outdoors; winter and bug season. Yes, the mosquitoes are slowly returning as water temperatures return to warmer levels where their larva can hatch, but the pesky biting bug isn’t the only one coming back.
Mayflies have been rumored to be starting to hatch. But unlike mosquitoes, mayflies are nearly harmless; they don’t bite, sting, or even eat because they fly only about 24 hours after hatching. They spring from their muddy homes, fly for a day, mate, and then die. But the biggest problem with these creatures is they often spring from the ground with a million of their brothers and sisters and swarm around in any place they find suitable. This can lead to many issues if you are unlucky enough to come upon one because they can cause visibility problems on the roads, and can often make things very slippery when they all fall to the ground and die in one spot.
Here are a couple of examples from previous summers…
Photos courtesy of the National Weather Service
These issues are of course on top of the obvious of being just plain gross. One of our viewers who was traveling near Garrison says he came across one such swarm from a good distance away…. He says it looked like smoke, but wasn’t when they got closer.
Photo courtesy of Bryan Jeffrey Hayes
As terrible as these hatching events sound, it’s actually good news. The recent surge of these mayflies have many in the Department of Natural Resources applauding because the amount of mayflies seen often correlates to how healthy area lakes and rivers are. With the huge influx in pollutants during the latter half of the 20th Century, mayflies nearly became extinct because their larva are especially sensitive to pollutants in the water like lead, mercury, and many pesticides. But since humans have learned how harmful these can be, the slow cutting back of these has allowed the waterways to become cleaner in recent years and has allowed the mayflies to flourish once again.
This is important because the mayfly can be a BIG source of food for area fish whose food supplies have been dwindling over the last few decades. So the moral of this story; they may be gross, but they are good for the environment.