Mayfly Watch campaign

Mayfly Watch badge

Every year, mayflies emerge from the Mississippi River, and the result can be extraordinary! These insects can swarm by the millions during a large emergence - enough to be picked up by weather radar.

Mayflies are an important food source for fish, especially during the summer emergence but also throughout the year when they are in their larval form. Mayflies are also a public safety hazard when they swarm near lights on roads and bridges, as they can pile up and cause roads to be slick and dangerous for cars. 

The US Fish & Wildlife Service is interested in tracking the timing of seasonal events like these. In the long term, this citizen science-based research will help educate the public that the presence of these insects is an indicator of generally good local water quality conditions during the past year. Information on the predicted timing of emergence can inform managers when to take measrues to ensure the public's safety, such as turning off lights on bridges and encouraging drivers to stay off roads inundated with mayflies.

This year, Mayfly Watch will be featured on two National Geographic television programs - One Strange Rock, hosted by Will Smith, and a new series on National Geographic WILD. Stay tuned for more details! 


How to Participate: 

1. Join Nature's Notebook. If you haven't already, create a Nature's Notebook account. See our specifics of observing if you need more details on getting started. 

If you have already registered a Nature's Notebook account, go to your Observation Deck, click the link to My Account Details, and add yourself to the Mayfly Watch group (under USFWS -> Region 3).

2. Set up your Observation Deck. For observations made at one of the Mayfly Watch Pool Sites, be sure you select Mayfly Watch from the dropdown under "Sites" and you will see the sites for the group. If you will be monitoring at one of the Mayfly Watch Pool Sitesview the navigation pool maps to find the pool that is closest to where you live.

For observations made at your own site, set up your own site under My Sites and add one or both of the mayfly species to your site. Follow these instructions on how to create a site and add animals.

3. Observe mayflies

Report what you see (yes/no/not sure?) for mayflies following the instructions for mayflies or giant mayflies. You should survey the area within 5-10 ft of where you are standing. You may need to walk around the area, inspecting the vegetation along the shoreline for several minutes.

Remember, mayfly abundance may change hourly - you can report multiple observations in one day by reporting the time at which you made the observation.

Sign up for Mayfly Watch updates