A Plague of Mayflies Suddenly Descends On Pennsylvania Causing Mayhem

LANCASTER, Pa., — A surreal scene descended on Eastern Pennsylvania Saturday night — a swarm of mayflies caused multiple crashes and forced officials to shut down a bridge.

Chief Chad Livelsberger of the Wrightsville Fire Company has said three motorcycle crashes occurred because of the flies.  Luckily, the motorcyclists had minor road rashes.

A bridged section of Route 462 was closed after the swarm appeared around 10 p.m. local time Saturday. Officials said the flies swarmed around the lights of the bridge, died and fell to the ground.

The sheer volume of insects reduced visibility, and turned the road surface of the bridge over the Susquehanna River, in Lancaster County, into a treacherous, slippery mess.

Piles of dead insects were seen strewn across the road,. Mayflies were also swarming around the lights on the bridge and then fell to the ground, forming piles several inches deep on the road.

“It was like a blizzard in June, but instead of snow, it was mayflies,” Wrightsville, Pa., Fire Chief Chad Livelsberger said. “It was very slick, almost like ice.”

Authorities said three motorcycle crashes were reported amid the flurry of flies, and a vehicle flipped onto its side. No serious injuries were reported.

Roads were slippery as a result of the swarm, making it difficult to see and stop.

“It was hard to stop,” Livelsberger said. “When you go to pull out, all your tires would do was spin,” the fire chief said.

“They were getting in our mouth. We had to close our eyes. We had to swat them away. Even when we got back, it felt like bugs were crawling in you.”

The poor road conditions caused motorcycle crashes, but there are no reports of serious injuries

Piles of mayflies up to 2ft (0.6m) deep were seen the morning after. The ayer of mayfly carcasses was about an inch thick on the road, officials said.

Officials brought in a street sweeper and Officer Brad Rohrbaugh with the West Hempfield Township Police Department said the bridge was reopened early Sunday morning.

“I never saw anything like it,” the fire chief said.

Near the Tisza River in Hungary, a similarly frightening plague occurs—and it happens every year.

The Palingenia longicauda, (also known as the long-tailed mayfly or the Tisza mayfly to Hungarian ocals, and in other parts of the world they are known as “One Day fly,”[because they literally have seconds to mate and then die] Junebug [not the beetle], Mayfly, Canadian Soldier, Fishfly).  Mayflies have a strange life cycle allowing them to live underground in the larvae state for 3 years of their lives. Immature mayflies live in water, before hatching as adults to mate in swarms. The only time they surface is as an adult, mating in orgies, and plaguing the towns with mayhem.

mayflies mating

mayflies mating

‘Once they mate, the males die promptly while the females lay their eggs and then also die. The insects on the bridge lamps are likely post-mated that died from exhaustion. The adult form does not feed or sting and is completely harmless.’

In July of last year, Wisconsin was plagued with the mayflies so badly,  it appeared on local radar as rain.

Wisconsin plagued with mayflies

This video was shot on Kelly’s Island, a beautiful island north of Sandusky, Ohio and just east of South Bass Island (Put-in-Bay). Kelley’s Island offers some of Lake Erie’s finest natural highlights. In addition to the Indian Rockand the butterfly house, the Glacial Grooves are worth the trip, alone.

Source:  UPI and Lisa Muhar

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