Mayflies swarming Lake Erie's coastal communities

CATAWBA ISLAND TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WTVG) - From houses to cars and everywhere in between, mayflies are invading Lake Erie's coast.

"They're just an annoyance," Catawba Island resident Eric Head said. "That's all they are."

For nearly 40 years Head and his family have spent every summer co-existing with the bugs in the lakeside community.

"They'll just come out of the lawn and they're just on you, and you end up picking them off each other just like monkeys picking fleas or bugs off of each other," Head joked.

While they're hard to avoid Head says he still does his best to try to keep the critters at bay.

"You don't want to leave your lights on [or] have you blinds open or your porch light on because you will have piles of them in the morning," Head said.

At The Dairy Dock and Bogey's Barbecue owners Brad and Bonnie Bogner use a different method to battle the bugs.

"We have a leaf blower just for the mayflies," Bonnie Bogner said.

Even with the use of power tools the Bogners say the mayflies still find a way to stick around.

"You've got to deal with them," Bogner said. "They're here. There's nothing you can do."

Despite their ability to seemingly stick to everything and gross some people out, mayflies are actually harmless and a sign of a healthy lake.

"It means there's oxygen in the bottom of the lake where they are," University of Toledo ecology professor Dr. Christine Mayer said. "So that's a good sign."

Mayer says mayflies spend two years living at the bottom of the lake before the wind sweeps them from the surface. Once on land they have about three days to mate before they die, and even then the bugs do their part.

"They are very good fish food," Mayer said. "Yellow perch and walleye love to eat the larvae."

While everyone has different thoughts about them those who live on the lake say mayflies are just a part of life.

"You get used to it I guess," Bonnie Bogner laughed.

Dr. Mayer says mayflies typically start to dwindle by mid-July.