Can Messy Mayflies Reboot Green Bay's Economy?
Last month, a bridge between Illinois and Iowa had to be closed because it was knee-deep in mayflies. Yes, knee-deep. Now some Wisconsin researchers are doing everything they can to increase mayfly numbers in parts of their state.
If you’ve ever seen clouds of delicate insects swarming a light at a baseball game, or covering a roadway, or had to resort to your windshield wipers to get you through the blizzard of bugs…then you’ve seen mayflies. The short-lived insects only appear for a few days each summer, but are so plentiful in some areas they have to be plowed off roads.
But what seems like a nightmare to most is a dream come true for fish…and the people who catch them. Mayflies have been wiped out in the bay of Green Bay, Wisconsin by industrial pollution. And fish like walleye and perch lost a great food source. Now as ecologists work to improve the bay’s water quality, one Milwaukee-based researcher is reintroducing the once-plentiful bugs in hopes of helping fish thrive. In turn, the local economy could thrive. Professor Jerry Kaster of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and his students are collecting mayfly eggs and putting them in the bay. The Green Bay Press Gazette reports the goal is to restore the ecosystem and help Green Bay become a world-class fishery.
Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified Professor Kasten's school: he is with the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, not Madison. We regret the error.