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Annual influx of fish flies hits shores of Lake Winnipeg

Click to play video: 'No outdoor surface in Gimli safe from fishflies; locals unfazed' No outdoor surface in Gimli safe from fishflies; locals unfazed
No outdoor surface in Gimli safe from fishflies; locals unfazed – Jul 21, 2020

The annual wave of fish flies, also known as mayflies, has arrived in communities on the shores of Lake Winnipeg.

The insects could be seen lining the pier, picnic tables and sidewalks in Gimli and surrounding communities Tuesday.

“Yesterday I was just covered in them, I went home my car was covered in them. You couldn’t get them off yourself, all over the cottage all over the cars,” cottager Tracee Mellon told Global News.

Read more: Fish flies descend on Interlake

“There was quite a few of them the other day, I’ve seen worse, I’ve seen more fish flies but this year wasn’t too bad,” Gimli Mayor Lynn Greenberg said.

“People who have never seen fish flies, they’re kind of curious [and] not sure what they’re all about,” he added. “They kind of want to stay away from them, but once they get told by the locals that they’re harmless they get more relaxed about it.”
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The bugs don’t last long, however, entomologists say they only live for about 24 hours. Mayor Greenberg says RM workers are already cleaning them up.

“I’m sure by Friday there won’t be any around,” he said. “They’re only here for four or five days.”

Several people that spoke to Global News said they don’t seem to mind the bugs, and understand that they’re just part of Lake Winnipeg in July.

“Anyone who has lived in the Interlake or grown up in the Interlake, [knows] fish flies are kind of just a happy July thing we’re used to, they’re harmless,” Mellon said.

Read more: Coronavirus could have big impact on biz in cottage country: Gimli mayor

Entomologist Taz Stuart says although they may be an inconvenience for some, the insects provide ample food for fish and are a sign of the overall health of the lake.

“When you have mass numbers emerging off the lake it does indicate a healthier ecosystem,” Stuart said. “That’s the only feeding stage for them. They sit in the water for a year or two, depending on species type, and they’re showing that there is a healthy ecosystem in place or in the areas they are emerging there is cleaner, better water.”

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