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Annual lake fly hatch leaves mess around Lake Winnebago

Lake fly close up in the Town of Neenah, May 15, 2017 (WLUK/Eric Peterson)

TOWN OF NEENAH, Wis. (WLUK) -- A dark, buzzing cloud filled the skies in parts of the area Monday. It was the annual hatching of lake flies.

The tiny bugs often coat just about anythng. They typically emerge from the Lake Winnebago system around Mother's Day.

On Sunrise Bay Road in the Town of Neenah, tiny lake flies are leaving their mark.

"You get up close, you can see these little green dots all over that they leave on the siding that we'll have to wash off here," said Bob Willer.

Willer has lived on Lake Winnebago for 40 years. He says this season's hatch is mild by comparison.

"Normally by Mother's Day, they're just one on top of one another. And now, we've got a relatively light hatch. You can see them around, but they're not pestering yet," he said.

Just down the road, Brett Olson says a light hatch is fine with him.

"It can get pretty nasty," Olson said. "You pretty much wait to cut the grass. You just don't breathe through your mouth. That's all."

"Like a lot of things, they are running maybe a little bit late this year because of the spring weather we've had," said Ed Culhane of the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources. "It's been cold and wet. But we can expect a lot more of them over the next few days."

Biologists say many of the bugs showed up over the weekend, and the female flies have just a couple of days to lay their eggs on the water. The eggs eventually grow into red worms, a prime food source for many fish on the Lake Winnebago system, including sturgeon.

In the meantime, residents on this part of the Winnebago shoreline will continue to cope.

"We're used to them, sure," Willer said. "They don't bite, so they're just a nuisance."

"You shake off before you go into the house," Olson said. "You survive."

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