John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
The bugs were so voluminous they formed a carpet 6 inches deep.
They teach a lot about defensive driving in motorcycle class, but one thing they usually don’t mention is what to do when you’re skidding through a writhing pudding of bugs 6 inches deep.
That was the startling situation this weekend in Havana, Illinois, where a seasonal hatch of mayflies descended upon a bridge. Vehicle traffic mooshed the insects into a slick, nasty lubricant that proved disastrous to several riders. The Havana Police Department writes on Facebook:
Please use caution when driving across the bridge today. Last night there was an invasion of Mayflies that has caused the bridge to be very dangerous. At one point they had piled 6 inches high and when ran over, became very slick. There were already motorcycle accidents due to this and cars stuck in the center of the bridge. Again use Caution.
Another view of the bridge:
Mayflies rise out of lakes and streams in the warmer months to breed in sky-darkening numbers. Their swarms are so dense they sometimes pop up on weather radar as storms; a couple years ago they left a Wisconsin gas station looking like it’d been sprayed with an industrial-strength foam-insulation gun. When not screwing up traffic they’re harmless, though, and no doubt make for a hungry bat’s best week of the year.