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Fascinating facts about Mayflies from Mike Polk Jr.

Mayflies are here. Bumpin’ into stuff, clogging up our spider webs and confusing our dogs. So what’s the deal with these skeezy invaders?

CLEVELAND — If you’ve been anywhere near the lake the last couple days you know that Cleveland is currently UNDER ATTACK by objectively gross bugs called Mayflies. 

These things are everywhere right now but we knew this was coming. How did we know? Because this swarm has descended upon our city was so huge that it showed up on The National Weather Service’s Radar last week. No joke.

So they’re all here. Bumpin’ into stuff, clogging up our spider webs and confusing our dogs, so what’s the deal with these skeezy invaders? Let’s get to know our enemy with these 10 Fun And Fascinating Mayfly Facts


They’re harmless!

Sure, they might gross you out a little but that’s as far as it can go. Mayflies do not bite, sting, or carry disease-causing organisms, and I for one appreciate that. I know that’s a pretty low bar but thanks, Mayflies. For not biting us.


They are NOT Midges.

You might be tempted to mistake this mayfly plague for our traditional Midge-Plague, but Mayflies are actually a totally different bug. One different is that they have larger, distinct wings and longer bodies, another is that Mayflies did NOT help Cleveland win Game 2 of the ALDS over the Yankees back in 2007.


They’re an important part of the eco-system.

Mayflies are a crucial source of food for trout, bass, catfish, frogs, newts and birds. So maybe seeing all of these bugs is unpleasant to you but if you’re a newt or a catfish it looks like The Golden Corral Buffet out there right now. Bon Apetit newts.


They are notoriously short-lived.

Mayflies are best known for their extremely brief lifespan as they typically only live between 24 to 72 hours.

Their only purpose is to reproduce and then die as soon as they complete this mission. This might seem like a pointless existence from a philosophical standpoint but by the time Mayflies start contemplating that fact they’re already pretty much dead, which is a blessing in its own way.  


No mouths.

That’s right, because Mayflies don’t tend to linger long once they surface they don’t need to eat anything and therefore have no use for functional mouths.  Because you don’t need a mouth to either mate or be eaten by a trout. That’s where that old saying comes from.


They’re bananas for bright lights.

You would think that if you were only going to exist for about 48 hours you wouldn’t want to spend the vast majority of that time bumping into a street light with 10 thousand other Mayflies, but who are we to tell them how to live their lives? Some lakeside cities actually intentionally turn out their street lights late at night so as to avoid attracting massive gatherings of these illumination-fiends.


The larger the swarm, the healthier the lake.

Mayflies require very clean water to breed so seeing a lot of them is a good indication of a healthy environment. This is in contrast to the aforementioned midges which are not as discerning about water quality and will breed even if the area is kind of toxic, because midges be nasty.


Yes, some people eat Mayflies.

Mayflies are consumed in several cultures and are estimated to contain the most raw protein content of any edible insect by dry weight. So, grab some ranch dressing, scrape off that windshield and dig in everyone.


They’re the go-to look for fishing fly makers. 

That’s right, mayflies are such a treat for trout and other popular gamefish that they are the primary source of models for artificial fishing flies. I mean, who could resist that?


Mayflies are also known as Canadian Soldiers. Why is this particularly relevant right now? I’ll tell you why,

because this month marks the 60th anniversary of the beginning of the War of 1812, in which The United States was in conflict with Great Britain and its province of Canada.  And now here we are, 60 years later, once again under attack by Canadian soldiers.

Okay that last one was kind of a reach but there are only so many Fascinating Facts about Mayflies so cut me some slack. Hope this helped everyone. Happy Mayfly season!

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