Anyone who’s easily creeped out by insects might want to skip this story. On Sunday, a massive swarm of mayflies exploded from the bottom of the Mississippi River and spread from the area near La Crosse, Wisconsin to breed.
Yahoo! News reported that this year’s summer breeding season resulted in such an enormous spawn of insects that the cluster showed up on weather radar. You can see an animated radar image picked up by a local weather station below, courtesy of Yahoo. The fuzzy blue areas are actual swarms of insects flying out from the base of the river. The green and yellow areas of the radar illustrate an even higher concentration of energy within the swarm. (Click for animation)
The Wall Street Journal also reported on this phenomenon, stating that local area residents had to take on the daunting (and disgusting) task of cleaning up all the corpses from the insect swarm. Not only did the swarm of mayflies show up on the radar, they also blacked out street lights and made the road slick from the sheer number of critters on the pavement.
The swarm only lasted a few hours, but one traffic accident was reported as a result. This mating ritual happens every year, but rarely at this magnitude. The swarm is a result of optimal temperatures triggering the release of winged adult mayflies to leave the river in unison.
According to Arwin Provonsha, retired Purdue University faculty member and expert on mayflies, “Their only function as adults is to disperse and to mate and to reproduce and lay eggs.”
You can see a snapshot of the insect swarm in the image below.
Some Wisconsin residents stayed around the bug swarm to capture the incredible moment on camera, but most fled the area. Mayflies are notorious for living only a few days to mate and breed, dying shortly after. They’re known for being completely harmless, but when a swarm is big enough to be picked up by satellites and weather balloons, you can’t really blame people for running for cover.
While no footage from this particular swarm has hit the internet yet, you can see what a swarm of mayflies looks like in the YouTube video below.
After mating, the female mayflies return to the river to lay eggs and die shortly after. Because of their tiny lifespan, the insects have to hatch as quickly as possible. It’s as creepy as it sounds. The following YouTube video shows a female mayfly laying her eggs, which then proceed to hatch in real time less than a minute later. Are you ready for this one?
The most recent horrifying insect swarm that The Inquisitr reported on was when a swarm of bees attacked a family in their car. Read more about it here.