The Nature of Things·Video

Huge swarms of mayflies emerge for a single day, just to go out with a bang

Each summer, mayflies emerge as adults for one final act of love before dying.

Each summer, mayflies emerge as adults for one final act of love before dying

Huge swarms of mayflies emerge for a single day, just to go out with a bang

The Nature of Things

27 days ago
2:21
Each summer, mayflies emerge as adults for one final act of love before dying 2:21

As the summer sun heats up waterways and lakes, huge numbers of mayflies appear at the water's surface. They have spent a year on the lake bottom but, with just the right temperatures, they now undergo a final molt, emerging as their adult forms.

As adults, the mayflies have only one purpose to fulfill — mating. With no mouth parts, they're unable to feed or drink, but they take to the skies in massive swarms on their first, and last, day as adults. 

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The mayflies swarm together to mate, coating every available surface. But they also provide a bounty to aerial predators like bats, who can consume their own weight in the insects in a single night.   

Eventually, the mayflies complete their final act of mating, and then die, having spawned the next generation. When it's all over, there's an awful big mess to cleanup. 

Watch the video above for the full story.

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