CLEVELAND — FirstEnergy's job is to keep the lights on. But later this month, the company plans to go dark in some locations to stop the invading horde of mayflies that will soon swarm our shores.
Every year, millions of mayflies descend on Ohio and wreak havoc. They gather in such numbers under lights and on roadways (also mainly under lights) that cars traveling through the area are in danger of sliding off the road because of the goop the crushed insects leave in their wake.
FirstEnergy said it is working with local officials to temporarily turn off streetlights to deter the bugs.
"Mayflies are attracted to streetlights and can create hazardous driving conditions when large numbers accumulate along roads and bridges near the lights," FirstEnergy said. "Many people don't realize these flies create a safety issue because their carcasses contain an oily substance that makes the surfaces they coat very slick, especially when it rains. By turning off the streetlights near the lake over the next few months, we can help dissuade thousands, even millions, of mayflies from congregating near them."
In 2019, the little bugs swarmed Port Clinton and covered everything from roads to parked cars.
The mayflies aren't expected until later this month so there is still time to prepare for battle. In the meantime, FirstEnergy said it is working with communities that are hit the hardest every year such as Marblehead, Erie Township and other locations where mayflies tend to swarm.
According to Encyclopedia Britannica, there are more than 2,500 species of mayflies worldwide and about 700 in the United States. Adult mayflies’ lifespans are very short, lasting usually only several days. Once the "hatching season" ends, FirstEnergy will turn the lights back on.
FirstEnergy said it wants to remind pedestrians and bikers to wear bright clothing when traveling along unlit roads. Motorists are encouraged to reduce their speed in unlit areas and keep an eye out for people walking or riding a bike.
If a streetlight is out in an unintentional area, you can report the issue here.
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