Science Course with Ryan Morse: Lake flies impacted by weather, good for the ecosystem

Beyond The Forecast

(WFRV) – It is that time of the year. Lake flies are back. Around mother’s day is when they start to peak with a smaller peak coming later this summer.

With the warmer temperatures over the next week, more will be seen. Many call them a nuisance, but even they have an important role to play in the environment.

Scott Koehnke, a Water Management specialist for the DNR, says, “The lake fly is at the bottom of the food pyramid if you will. They are found in the muck of the lake, they go through a life process where they are a food source through the entire life cycle.”

As larvae in the lake, the lake flies provide a year-round major food source to sturgeon and other fish species in Lake Winnebago.

Once hatched and emerged, the flies provide food sources for birds, frogs, bats, and dragonflies. Lake flies only live for 1 to 3 weeks once they are hatched.

Weather is also a big factor when it comes to lake flies.

Temperatures indirectly effects them based on food availability. A warm, dry spring means lake flies won’t live as long.

Koehnke states, “Right now pretty cool temperatures with periods of rain, right now living closer to 14-21 days opposed to 7-10 days.”

Air temperature in spring helps determine when they hatch, but wind direction after they hatch determine where many end up and lay their eggs.

These swarms of lake flies may even be thick enough to be seen on our weather radars!

July 15, 2019 Lake Flies

Over the next few weeks, track the wind direction to see where the lake flies end up. With a west wind, watch eastern portions of Lake Winnebago for the flies.

A north wind may drive most of the flies to the southern portions of the lake around Fond Du Lac. An east wind will bring more flies toward Oshkosh. A south wind brings the flies to the northern portions of the lake.

“The important thing with the lake flies is they don’t transfer disease and they don’t bite, some have allergies,” said Koehnke.

For more Science Course with Ryan Morse, click below

Although most aren’t fans of lake flies, they are short-lived and very much needed within the Lake Winnebago ecosystem.

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