Fish fly takes Caledonia by storm during breeding season – Hamilton

It was only around for days last week, but it stormed the small town of Caledonia, Ont., by the tens of thousands in a fast and furious way.

The fish fly, an insect named after the horrid smell created when crushed underfoot, breeds in large swarms over the course of a few days after emerging from the water, creating a spectacle in the town along the Grand River southwest of Hamilton, Ont.

For residents of Caledonia, it was like a blizzard in the middle of the summer when they witnessed the annual phenomenon last week.

Heather Hibbs and her family jumped in the car late last Thursday night to go see the insects.

She says it’s a big event in the town and broader Haldimand County.

McMaster insect physiologist, Rosa da Silva says the presence of the fish flies are a sign of a healthy environment. (Gail MacLellan)

“It’s a gross thing, but it is a phenomenon right? It’s quite interesting,” said Hibbs.

A video Hibbs’ 15-year-old son took while on the family outing has garnered over 80,000 views on social media.

In the video you can hear the crunching of the bodies under the wheels of their car.

A big mess

Neat yes, but the aftermath creates a large mess. 

After the insects mate, the males die and blanket the ground with their carcasses.

This can create very dangerous road conditions as Haldimand County’s Roads and Operations Manager, Brent Hammond explains.

“They are slippery, they are greasy. In at times they come in heavy,” said Hammond.

Because the area is used to the occurrence, Hammond says crews get out with sweepers and leaf blowers, but it’s never an extensive cleanup.

Once they know of the insect’s activities, crews are usually out early in the morning to address the mess.

It was fitting to see shovels come out with the way local resident and photographer, Gail MacLellan described the scene.

“Basically it looked like we were in the middle of a snowstorm,” said MacLellan.

According to Haldimand Manager of Roads and Operations, Brent Hammond, the roads can become very slippery and dangerous with the carcasses covering the roads. (Gail MacLellan )

MacLellan covered herself up and went out to witness the spectacle because she takes photos of insects.

She says it was interesting to see the reactions of people who didn’t know what was going on.

“It took them by surprise. All of a sudden arms started flailing or they’re running faster or they’re just couldn’t understand…

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