Mayflies. They might not bite, or even sting, but you better believe that swarms of them can cause a motorcycle crash… Or 3.
That’s what has happened on the Route 462 bridge over the Susquehanna River in Wrightsville, Pennsylvania. Hundreds of thousands of mayflies have hatched in the area near the river (and continue to do so), and they seem to have all congregated on the bridge.
Why? Apparently, the bridge lights are the closest and brightest around. The bugs are drawn to these lights, and there they have stayed.
This hasn’t always been the case, though. Tim Abbey, who is with Penn State Ag Extension, says they have only been like this since new lights were installed about two years ago at the request of the local municipality.
In their attempts to cover this crazy event, reporters have difficulty filming on the bridge, as their bodies quickly become covered in flies and the space around them continues to be abuzz with swarms.
The swarms quickly became overwhelming, causing three motorcycle crashes and another wreck involving cars. Although there were no serious injuries among the accidents, the fire department had little choice but to shut down the bridge on two different occasions.
Chad Livelsberger, the Wrightsville Fire Chief, was at the scene, noting that this is the worst he’s ever seen the flies.
We just thought it was way unsafe. A. visibility was 0 and it was like driving on ice.
What a nightmare, huh?
Daylight doesn’t bring much relief, either. In addition to the live swarms, piles of the dead bugs now litter the bridge, making it difficult to pedestrians and those on bicycles to navigate the heaps. And yes, all those carcasses cause quite an unpleasant stench.
While this may seem like a bad omen, it actually means the opposite. Mayfly larvae start out buried in the river sediment, but polluted water can cause them to suffocate and die before they even hatch. Flies hatching in these great numbers means cleaner water in the river.
Photos via ABC7 News