Mayfly invasion a good thing, experts say

All along the Columbia-Wrightsville Bridge over the Susquehanna is being invaded by Mayflies. While the bugs may be a nuisance, experts say this is a sign of a healthy ecosystem.

Year of the Mayfly
Michael Ennis owns the Riverfront Barbershop and Salon, which sits almost underneath of the Wrightsville side of the bridge. He is calling this the year of the Mayfly. “When you drive across the bridge you can hear them popping underneath your wheels. You can hear the crunching,” said Ennis.

Every night mounds of Mayflies swarm the bridge, which sits overtop the Susquehanna River.  “Some folks are blaming the new lights for bringing the flies but that sounds kind of silly to me. With the new lights there is much more light now, and they are just loving that,” said Ellis.

“Some of those lights get full. I mean you got two foot thick piles of bugs. And they smell bad,  just like rotting flesh,” said Ellis. “That’s river living, sister!”

Healthy Sign
Tim Abbey is a Horticulture Educator with Penn State Agriculture Extension in York County. He says all of the Mayflies are a good thing. “Aquatic insects are a sign of a healthy or relatively healthy aquatic environment. When you get a really good hatch that means the water is clean,” said Abbey.

He isn’t exactly sure why there are so many this year but said one possibility is, there are more than one species. “There’s a number of species around here, they spend their immature life in the water so when they hatch, you get them around the rivers and streams,” said Abbey.

Despite being a nuisance, the bugs will not hurt anyone.”They don’t bite, they don’t transmit any diseases. They are really actually important in the ecosystem. They serve as a food source for fish and also birds and small mammals will feed on them,” said Abbey.