Dubuque's Mayfly Mayhem - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Dubuque's Mayfly Mayhem

A car at the Dubuque Auto Outlet covered in dead mayflies Monday morning A car at the Dubuque Auto Outlet covered in dead mayflies Monday morning

Mayflies, fish flies, barge flies -- regardless of the chosen term, these insects hatched from the Mississippi River and swarmed Dubuque Saturday night.

Since then, businesses have been busy cleaning up piles of mayfly carcasses. The insects have a life span of less than 24 hours.

Heavy rain Sunday morning plastered the dead mayflies to streets, windows and cars.

That's no good for the Dubuque Auto Outlet, used car manager Kevin Lynch said.

"I haven't seen anything like this in 20 years in the business," he said Monday, standing in a lot where more than 50 cars received a thick coating of mayfly bodies. "This is probably the worst I've seen it."

Mark Wagner is the education director at the National Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. He said the mayflies are a good indication that the Mississippi River is in good shape, as a polluted river couldn't support such a hatch.

He said Saturday's hatch was an average size, even though the mayflies reach several miles inland from the river.

"I thought, 'This is great. We love to shovel snow in the winter, and now we get to shovel fish flies in the summer,'" Lynch said.

Employees spent the day power washing the cars.

Mayflies can hatch out of the upper Mississippi River, as well as other Eastern Iowa rivers and some lakes.

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