Imagine, if you will, the celebrated life and inglorious death of the Wisconsin Lake Fly.
Born merely to breed, they burst forth like waves of Kardashians and spend their whole, uninspired lives in pursuit of babies and buzz. Wave them off and they’ll return in greater numbers. Question their validity in life’s tender ecosystem, and they roar back, pesky noisemakers who speak loudly and say nothing at all (because lake flies have no mouths).
Just when you think you’ve seen the last of them, you sweep up their tiny shells and wash green goo from your screens, they rebrand themselves and return.
I once spent the worst Mother’s Day I could ever imagine playing first base in a lakefront softball game. I stood with my mitt over my face and tried to ignore the incessant humming of swarming flies all around me. I felt like the central character in a Hitchcock movie as I pulled away from the horror that day and drove from the lake. I stopped at a nearby grocery store and marveled at normalcy of it all — small children skipped along shiny carts, shoppers happily loaded their loot into bright-colored cars. I sat in my car and decompressed, so shocking was quick contradiction of swarming lake flies and happy Sunday families.
Still, I feel sorry for the pesky lake fly, dancing happily in pursuit of a mate in one instance, splattered awkwardly across a sweaty, freckled human face in another. The end comes quickly for the entire lot, none of whom lives more than a week.
The thing to remember about lake flies is that they’re harmless, no matter how loud their hum, nor apparently vacuous their lives. Swat them away and they’ll leave a mark. Ignore them and they’ll fade away.
I caught the lake flies on an off day. For the full effect of their annual swarm, check out this Gannett video.