Officials prepare for large hatch of Mayflies, experts say it’s “good” they’re here

COLUMBIA, Lancaster County, Pa. --- On Saturday, Mayor Leo Lutz said Wrightsville officials alerted them to mayflies popping up in the area.

Officials made the decision to turn the lights off the Route 462 bridge between Columbia and Wrightsville.

Lutz said this is the fourth year they've tried to make the bridge less appealing to mayflies.

He said their attempts to keep them away from the lights is an effort to be proactive as opposed to reactive.

“It could be a big hatch, it could be a smaller hatch. Obviously, we don’t know and Mother Nature knows what we don’t," said Lutz.

Josh Hill with Shanks Mare Outfitters in Wrightsville said now is the time for any preparations as they expect the mayfly hoards to start soon.

“It should be any, any day now really. We went back and looked at past Instagram photos of when the swarms of them were here and it was anywhere from June 25-ish to first week of July," said Hill.

Hill said they look forward to the mayfly swarms to start because of the message they carry.

Ted Evgeniadis with Lower Susquehanna Riverkeeper said mayflies are intolerant to pollution, meaning their appearances of the last several years means the river and local waterways are healing.

“If you float the susquehanna really at any time of the last few weeks, you might’ve seen some mayflies come off the water and that’s a great sign. When we see them in large prolific hatches, that even a better sign," said Evgeniadis.

He also said people should not be fearful of mayflies, as they have no mouths as adults and cannot bite.

Mayflies only live for 24 to 48 hours.

When they die, they can create messes on roadways, bridges, and buildings.

Lutz said they're asking drivers, bikers and walkers to be cautious as the mayflies pile around the area.

He said roads and sidewalks can become slick from a grease-like residue left behind from the bugs.

“There’s no amount of cure, there’s no amount of money that can equal human life so we want to make sure everybody’s safe," said Lutz.

Lutz said they're working with PennDOT on a rehabilitation project of the Route 462 bridge that is expected to take place around 2022.

He said one of the ideas floating around is to put lights on the bottom of the bridge in an effort to keep as many mayflies as possible off the deck of the bridge.

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