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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living on Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

This week, facts about... Mayflies.


CURWOOD: May, of course, is the appropriate month to talk about mayflies. The oldest order of winged insects in existence, mayflies are born with gills and live underwater in streams and lakes for about two years as larvae, before emerging as a swarm in the spring. Mayflies that make it past hungry fish to the surface spend much of their one day of free-flying adulthood buzzing near lights and lampposts. Then by the billions they fall to Earth, and can make a slimy mush on roads and windshields. Around Lake Erie, most people consider them a nuisance, but the fact that mayflies do swarm there is a testament to the improving health of the lake. Mayflies have a low tolerance for pollution, so their presence is a good indicator of water quality. And along the shores of Lake Erie, some communities are trying to make the best of the billions of dead insects. They're looking into ways to compost the massive mounds of carcasses into a mayfly mulch. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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