Mayflies are sentinels of water quality. The immatures live in the water where they feed on algae or dead plant material (detritus). Many species are especially sensitive to pollution and will go locally extinct if their larval habitat is polluted or degraded. For many years, the Ohio River in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania was so polluted that mayflies were seldom seen. Due to the Clean Water Act and other Government Regulatory efforts, the nation’s waters are gradually becoming less polluted. A decade ago, the level of pollution in the Ohio River dropped enough that the mayflies returned.
This year in the last week of May, Mayflies were swarming Pittsburgh, PA in force. Mayflies visited PNC stadium to attend the Pittsburgh Pirates baseball game. The mayflies made an appearance on national TV as an announcer held one for the camera. Someone noted that mayflies only have 24 hours to mate and a baseball game is the perfect place to take a date! The reaction of fans ranged from curiosity to disgust and in some cases terror.
At Stage AE, the mayflies visited the Colbie Caillat concert. Colbie was not impressed. The mayflies were not invited and they did not buy tickets. Her Twitter Feed documents the atrocity:
The good news is
1. The Ohio River is much less polluted.
2. Mayflies do not bite or sting.
3. The Mayfly swarms are ephemeral. They will be gone by next week.
Pittsburghers must enjoy it while it lasts.