John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The insect clouds are so dense “you need a gas mask,” says a local.
Spring is in full effect, and for some waterside communities that means one thing: godawful, writhing clouds of flies so thick “you need a gas mask” to go outside, according to one man in Kingston, Ontario.
The city of roughly 123,000 bug-besotted souls is dealing with the annual arrival of mayflies, which swarm out of lakes and rivers for intense group sex before quickly expiring. These so-called emergences can get so huge they’re visible on radar, and coat cars and buildings with squirming carpets of legs, wings, and genital claspers. When an emergence ends it’s a signal to get out the Shop-Vac, as the dead flies can accumulate in piles not unlike gross snowbanks.
Kingston is no stranger to mayflies, but some residents say this year’s horde is extreme. “This is the worst that I’ve probably seen them. Even the walks are almost unbearable,” one dude told CKWS-TV. Footage from ICI Radio-Canada shows the flies utterly engulfing a tree (the graininess adds a classic horror-film touch):
Still, here’s evidence that last year’s insectoid orgy was just as fierce. There’s no fire nearby to create this smoke, so what’s hap… ugggh: