The Fish Fly?Monday, June 28, 2010
If you live in certain lakeside communities off of Lake St. Clair, as I do and always have, then you have experienced the hellish nightmare of fish fly season.
In season, they cover everything in sight in thick layers: doors, streets, lamp posts, buildings, houses, mailboxes, etc. It’s the 6th Great Lake – Lake St. Clair – that attracts them. The buildings along Lakeshore Drive will be littered with these things for days. The entire city of St. Clair Shores is a fish fly nest. If you stand in one place too long, they will cover you like a blanket. They’re gross, they smell like dead fish, and they pop (!) as you step on them or ride your bike down the street. Walking on a sheet of them is like walking on ice – you go flying! The typical fish fly season is 3-6 weeks long. A local, lakeside town – New Baltimore – even has a fish fly festival. The short and dirty:
The bugs spend up to two years skittering along the bottom of lakes and rivers before emerging onto land. This is why they’re a good indicator of water quality. Fish flies are very sensitive to oxygen levels near lake and riverbeds, Schloesser said. Polluted water has less oxygen, and thus fewer fish flies.
Once on land, fish flies only have about 30 hours. They spend the first 12 in trees or plants. The next evening, they mate, usually in swarms, Schloesser said, which explains the big clouds.
I am seeing the last few of them – I missed the worst of the season while on vacation. Shame … I kinda like that poppin’ sound. The funniest thing is seeing outsiders react to them ‘cuz they’ve never seen the things.
In the spirit of things, here’s a great YouTube spoof of the “Pure Michigan” marketing/travel campaigns.