Millions of mayflies (Ephemeroptera) emerge along the Lake Erie and Lake St. Clair shorelines in mid June. In Windsor, the Lakeview Marina is a good place to observe the clouds of mayflies under lights each night. This spectacle disappeared for about forty years during the 1900's and only reappeared in the early 1990's. The return of these huge numbers was a sign of the improved condition of the Great Lakes.
Mayflies at Lakeview Marina, June 1998
The adult mayflies are well known for their brief (ephemeral) adult lives, just a few hours, days at most. They do not feed or drink during their adult existance. Mayflies mate in swarms and the females return to the lakes to lay their eggs. The aquatic nymphs which can live up to two years play an important ecological role as they feed on algae and in turn are eaten by fish.
Mayflies are among the most primitive insects having evolved over 280 million years ago during the Carboniferous period. They are one of the few insect groups that cannot fold their wings down over their backs.
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Information last updated : January 2023
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