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Plague of mayflies picked up by weather radar

Source: National Weather Service/NOAA

Source: National Weather Service/NOAA


Jen Bartram
Digital News Editor

Thursday, July 24, 2014, 9:41 -

Looking at the radar pictures below, you can see a rapidly developing, heavy shower. At least, that’s what weather forecasters would assume under normal circumstances.

(c) NWS/NOAA

(c) NWS/NOAA

However, this is no heavy shower. It is, in fact, a gigantic swarm of mayflies.

These radar images, taken from the Upper Mississippi River in Wisconsin on July 20th, show clouds of mayflies taking off from the river to breed.

(c) NWS/NOAA

(c) NWS/NOAA


(c) NWS/NOAA

(c) NWS/NOAA


(c) National Weather Service/NOAA

(c) National Weather Service/NOAA


Many towns and cities in the vicinity reported seeing swarms of the flies as they generally moved north, as high as 2500 feet above the ground.

The National Weather Service in the US called this a ‘massive emergence’ of the insects. After living most of their lives in the river, the insects emerge to mate, and then generally die one to two days later.

Highway 61 revisited?

The last massive emergence was in 2012. During that period, a four inch thick layer of dead insects littered the Highway 61 Hastings Bridge in Minnesota, causing a driver to collide head-on with another vehicle.

During that period, a snow plough was used to remove the dead beasties from the road. This year, reports have come in that the thick swarms have already resulted in a three-way car crash.

Photographers caught up in the mayfly storms quickly took to social media to show off their pictures of the bugs.

Rather them than us!