The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

World, nation, state

June 15, 2014

Mayflies along Lake Erie slower to emerge this year

The mayflies that rise out of Lake Erie each June and swarm cities along the shore in northern Ohio have been slower to show up in some spots this year.

But a few areas have seen the usual swarm of the pesky but harmless winged insects.

Each year during early and mid-June, millions of mayflies hatch and sprout wings and then blanket street lamps, store windows, screen doors and just about anything they can cling to.

They’re an annoyance because they stick to clothes and sometimes land in hair.

The mayfly population goes through cycles, said Don Schloesser, a researcher at the Great Lakes Science Center in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

There were about 150 mayflies per square meter in 2012, while last year the numbers was half that, he told The Blade newspaper in Toledo.

It’s not clear why there has been a change. The brutal winter and cold temperatures this spring could have delayed the emergence of the insects that survived.

“If you don’t see them by the first week of July, you should kind of assume that they’re not coming this year,” Schloesser said.

Decaying algae that takes away oxygen in the lake may have caused the mayflies to suffocate, said Justin Chaffin, a research coordinator at Ohio State University’s Stone Laboratory.

Just because there are less so far, doesn’t mean they aren’t around.

Mayflies typically live for a day or two before dying. But the life cycle actually lasts two years.

They begin as eggs on the water’s surface before the eggs sink to the bottom of the lake. The larvae hatch and burrow in the mud and later wiggle out of their burrows, hatch and take off from the water.

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