ELKHART COUNTY -- Parts of the area are being invaded by bugs. Mayflies have hatched and they're swarming some buildings and business. One gas station in particular was covered in the insects Wednesday morning.
"I almost want like a fly swatter or something before I pump my gas, because that's kind of gross," Todd Brake said after he pulled into the Phillps 66 station at the intersection of County Line Road and SR 933.
As gas prices continue to creep down, thousands of bugs at the gas station were creeping people out. The insects covered everything from the pumps to the awning. They hatched out of the St. Joe River and while they're good for catching fish, they were also catching a lot of attention.
"They can be annoying," Vince Edwards said as he picked one Mayfly up.
So why so many mayflies and what do they mean?
"This is one of the most primitive groups of flying insects," Notre Dame Professor and Entomologist, Ron Hellenthal, said.
Hellenthal is a bug expert. He said Mayflies live most of their lives (about 3 years) in the water as nymphs. They only emerge for one reason.
"They do not feed, they do not bite, they don't do anything but mate and die," Hellenthal said.
He said swarms like the one in Elkhart had been common until the early 60's, but poor water quality thinned those swarms out. He said efforts to improve our waterways are starting to bring them back.
"Until really the Clean Water Act started to take effect, many of these mass emergences disappeared," he said, "The truth is this is a good sign, it means water qualities have improved."
Hellenthal said Mayflies only live a couple of days and soon they will die off but will resurface again next year.
He said the insects swarm for two reasons; it's easier to find a mate and they can overwhelm their predators.
His prediction as to why all of the Mayflies were attracted to the Phillips 66? The water quality at a point in the river close the gas station is a better quality.