Mayflies a shortlived nuisance [UPDATED]Published 4:18am Monday, June 3, 2013 Updated 6:21am Monday, June 3, 2013
The other day, I made a stop in the middle of the day to our lake cabin to check on something.
As I approached the docks, I noticed a dull hum. It was a bizarre sound, like something out of a Stanley Kubrick film. Then I noticed them — small black things flying everywhere around the docks, randomly bumping into each other and everything in their path.
It was only fitting that it was only days before June 1 when the mayflies showed up. With the water temperature hovering around 50, some of the biggest snow piles had finally disappeared a week prior, and the weather being anything but balmy yet, residents haven’t felt like the summer season has come yet either.
Why should the mayflies be any different?
As long as the mayflies are out in full force now, in the style of Cliff Clavin (I know, I’m dating myself), here are a few facts — via Wikipedia — about mayflies to chew on as you chew on the mayflies while sitting in the boat or around the campfire.
• Mayflies in their immature stage —called nymphs — live in fresh water lakes and rivers for as long as a year.
• About 2,500 species of mayflies are known worldwide, including about 630 species in North America. Whether all those mayflies on my lake are one species or many, I’m not sure, and how I would know?
• Adult mayflies don’t live very long, only a few minutes or maybe a few days.
• This is shocking news: Often, all the mayflies in a population mature at once (a hatch), and for a day or two in the spring or fall, mayflies will be everywhere, dancing around each other in large groups, or resting on every available surface. Yep. That’s what’s happening on our lake.
So in summary, the average mayfly spends the vast majority of its life swimming around alone for a year, then everybody gets together, parties like its 1999, and dies.
Their life actually sounds like a Stanley Kubrick film.
While the mayflies are annoying — they get in your mouth, ears and nose — at least they don’t bite. I’m betting the mosquitoes will be showing up late for the party as well.
That would be fine by all of us.
• • •
I don’t know how the rest of you are faring, but it’s been quite a struggle to keep up with the lawn this year.
For one thing, it keeps raining, and the grass likes the rain, so it grows.
But when it’s raining, it means the grass is wet, and my lawnmower and I get wet, so I’d rather not mow.
But the grass keeps growing.
What it came down to was, on Thursday afternoon, I faced a race against time. For a scant couple of hours, the sun came out and dried the grass.
I raced home, filled the mower up with gas, put on the iPod, and cut away. I always pride myself at my efficiency, but face it, lawn mowing is one of those jobs where it will take as long as it takes.
I watched the impending dark clouds move closer as I made my circles around the yard.
I started to feel sprinkles when I hightailed the rider back to the garage, and sprinted out with the push mower to get the hard spots.
The high point was when I left my push mower on the hill to close a shed door, only to look back a minute later to find it wasn’t there. It had rolled down the hill, stopping just short of the lake in the brush.
Finished, I walked into the house, sweat rolling down my forehead, slightly out of breath, and heart beating away.
I didn’t know lawn mowing could be a Stanley Kubrick film, too.
Joel Myhre is The Journal’s publisher. Email him at email@example.com