Call them mayflies, not June bugs, biologist says
University of Windsor professor dispells mayfly myths
The smelly winged bugs that many Canadians find stuck to their screen doors in large numbers this time of year have numerous names, but June bug isn't one of them.
The insects can be called mayflies, fish flies or shadflies, according to University of Windsor professor of biology Lynda Corkum.
"This seems very peculiar, because usually, the peak emergence when you see so many on the wing is during the month of June, and that's why people want to say June bugs, but they're not June bugs. A June bug is a beetle," Corkum said.
Sometimes the crunchy creatures are referred to as Canadian or American soldiers, depending on where you reside.
Mayflies' main contribution is to add to the food chain, as fish, small mammals and cats eat them, Corkum said.
The creatures are born at the bottom of large bodies of water and only live for up to two days.
Females fly over the lake and disperse up to 4,000 eggs each, Corkum said.
Corkum said they often emerge from lakes at night and stay in groups to protect themselves from predators.
"The males will have swarms over vegetation near the water, and this will occur, depending on the species, around 8 p.m., and females will fly through the swarm ,and then a male will grab her and tumble to the ground and mate," Corkum said.
Young mayflies have cloudy wings while sexually mature adults have very shiny wings.
"They come out in thousands of numbers, because they only live for a couple of days," Corkum said. "The idea is you have to find a mate in a short period of time so that's one reason why so many come out synchronously."
Mayflies are attracted to ultraviolet light, which is why they often stick to storefronts and houses.
Corkum predicts mayfly levels will peak around June 18.