Parts of Wisconsin, including the city of La Crosse, are dealing this week with a massive infestation of mayflies, which are covering everything from gas pumps to ATMs. The flies are swarming in such numbers that they’re actually showing up on weather radar in the area.
“Because they coat surfaces in an epic biblical plague, mayflies sometimes cause highway accidents,” reports Wired
. “The slippery goo created by millions of mayflies is blamed in a three-car pileup in Hager City, Wisconsin, [Monday] night. A major emergence in 2012 resulted in snow plows being called out to clean up the mess.”
According to Wired, the insects hatch in the Mississippi River, then live only long enough to procreate. They do not eat, and some species do not even have working mouths.
“The mayfly species emerging this week lives only one night as an adult,” Wired reports. “They mate, the male dies …and the female feebly flutters off to lay her eggs.”
“Mayflies spend the majority of their life underwater, quietly eating algae and plant material,” Wired reports. “The full growth cycle of a mayfly can take up to 4 years.” At that point, they “emerge synchronously around dusk to avoid their main above-water predators: birds and bats. Predators trying to capitalize on a sudden mayfly all-you-can-eat buffet are overwhelmed by the emergence of millions of insects. Some individuals make it through, and the species continues.”