As communities along Lake Erie, and especially the Ottawa County shoreline, prepare for the mass arrival of mayflies this month, Ohio Edison, a FirstEnergy Corp., is proactively working with local municipalities to keep roads along the lakeshore safe by temporarily turning off streetlights to deter swarms of flies. Mayflies are attracted to streetlights and can create hazardous driving conditions when large numbers accumulate along roads and bridges near the lights.
The annual emergence of the mayflies typically comes in late June and can last until September. In preparation for their arrival, Ohio Edison has started to suspend streetlight service along several roads in Port Clinton and will continue doing so in other nearby communities over the next few weeks. The company will resume streetlight service once the hatching season ends.
Because the mayfly population has spiked along Lake Erie over the past decade, Ohio Edison partners with these lakeshore communities each summer to keep motorists and bikers safe during the mayfly season.
“Many people don’t realize these flies create a safety issue because their carcasses contain an oily substance that makes the surfaces they coat very slick, especially when it rains,” said Nick Katsaros, an external affairs consultant in FirstEnergy’s Lake Erie service area. “By turning off the streetlights near the lake over the next few months, we can help dissuade thousands, even millions, of mayflies from congregating near them.”
Mayflies start their lives deep in the mud of Lake Erie and are especially sensitive to depleted oxygen levels. When the insects emerge from the water as adults, they live between 24 and 72 hours, which is why their hatching season is short. “We realize our streetlight service is very important to the communities we serve, and their safety is always our top priority,” said Katsaros. “We look forward to resuming streetlight service in the impacted areas once it is safe to do so.”
Pedestrians and bikers are reminded to use extra caution when traveling along unlit roads this summer. They are urged to always use sidewalks and crosswalks and wear bright clothing or flashing devices to alert drivers of their presence. Drivers are reminded to reduce their speed in unlit areas and be on the lookout for people walking or biking in the area.
If a customer notices a streetlight or outdoor area light is out in their community unintentionally, they are encouraged to report it to Ohio Edison online at www.firstenergycorp.com/lightingproblem or by calling 1-800-633-4766.