Prehistoric Bugs Have Begun Exhibiting up in Iowa


For those of us who live near bodies of water, the warmer weather means it’s time for the annual flock of mayflies. They start hatching in May and do so throughout spring and summer. I saw my first of the season on Friday morning in Waterloo, two blocks from the Cedar River:

According to, there were mayflies before there were dinosaurs; 300-350 million years ago. They are the oldest group of winged insects.

While they can be a nuisance around street lights and smooth the street with their carcasses, a large mayfly (or sometimes called a “fish fly”) is a good indication of a healthy waterway – they can only survive in “clean” water ‘ Water. There are approximately 2,500 species of the insect, with over 600 species in North America.

Last June, the National Weather Service’s radar in La Crosse, Wisconsin showed a mass over the Mississippi River on the Minnesota-Wisconsin-Iowa, Allamakee County border.

But they are not there long, an adult mayfly lives from a few minutes to a few days. Adult mayflies don’t have time to eat, so they never develop a functioning mouth, which also means they can’t bite you. (They also have no spines) Their only purpose is reproduction and they die shortly afterwards. But in their short lifespan, they are BUSY. The average female mayfly lays between 400 and 3,000 eggs.

But cleaning up after a mass death isn’t much fun. As seen in this video from 2018:

So get your shovels ready. It’s MAYFLY SEASON!

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