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Mating mayflies pose Bavarian traffic hazard

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Mating mayflies pose Bavarian traffic hazard
Photo: DPA
15:46 CEST+02:00
Every summer it's the same messy mating ritual: Millions of mayflies hatch, have sex and die in the Bavarian county of Schwandorf, endangering motorists with their slippery corpses left on roads.

The randy bugs, known as Eintagsfliegen in German, normally mate around 10 pm, when Mother Nature has dimmed the lights enough to create the perfect romantic vibe. Exhausted by their sexual exploits, the male mayflies then quickly die and litter the ground with their bodies.

The dead insects soon become a mushy traffic hazard up to 10 centimetre thick on the country roads, forcing the local fire brigade and construction workers to shovel the mayflies into the nearby Naab River.

“Mayflies are basically little procreation machines,” said Michael Gebhardt, an insect expert at Munich's Technical University, explaining how they live for year in water before turning into flying adults and dying just hours later. “They just have to enjoy their lives as nymphs.”

He said the annual mayfly plague in Bavaria's Oberpfalz region is caused by the ideal water and vegetation conditions found in the Naab.

Two villages, Schwarzenberg and Schwandorf, are now attempting to combat the buggy traffic problem by attracting the mayflies to 1,000 watt spotlights over bridges in the hope they will simply fall into the river after breeding.

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