HASTINGS, Minn. - Mayflies have long been a sloppy seasonal presence in Hastings, where the Mississippi River proves to be an excellent breeding ground.
But residents awoke Monday morning to what some are calling the biggest hatch in a decade or more, resulting in a slippery, smelly mess.
Hastings Police Chief Paul Schnell says so many mayflies descended on the Highway 61 Hastings bridge that they triggered a crash. One motorist was driving across the bridge deck, spun out on the greasy coating of dead mayflies, and careened across the centerline into an oncoming car.
Schnell says injuries were minor.
MnDOT sent out a plow to scrape all the mayflies off the roadway, and laid down some sand to give motorists better traction.
The good news is that the siege won't last long.
According to Wikipedia, the mayfly is an aquatic insect whose immature stage (called "naiad" or, colloquially, "nymph") usually lasts one year in freshwater. When they do hatch the bug's adult stage is short-lived, from a few minutes to a day or two.
University of Minnesota extension professor Jeff Hahn says the hatch was unusually large and synchronized in Hastings this year. Hahn adds that mayflies are a nuisance but they're not harmful. In fact, a large population of mayflies is actually a sign of good water quality, a positive reflection on the state of the Mississippi River.
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