Experts tackle readers’ garden questions.
Q: What is this bug and is it good for my garden?
J. Skell, Sacramento
“Bug Man” Baldo Villegas: The insect is an adult mayfly. Mayflies are aquatic insects and live most of their lives as “naiads” (aquatic nymphs) in nearby rivers, streams, lakes and ponds or any water feature that is permanent.
They feed on aquatic vegetation and they are important food sources for fish and other aquatic animals.
Adult mayflies emerge from the water at various times of the year depending on the species. The adults are also attracted to lights and can fly a long distance from where the mayfly lived while immature. This might be the case with this adult mayfly that found its way into your house.
Don’t worry as they are not pests of the garden. They do not feed on anything! They just live a few hours, only long enough to find a mate and reproduce.
The only situation I know about mayflies being a problem or a nuisance was in the Lakeport area of Clear Lake. There is a species of mayfly there that is extremely common and, when the adults emerge, they are attracted to nearby lights and homes with outside lights.
As the adult mayflies die, the dried-up bodies can cause allergic reactions for people living in the area.
Known as Sacramento’s “Bug Man,” Baldo Villegas is a retired state entomologist and master consulting rosarian.
Questions are answered by master gardeners at the UC Cooperative Extension services in Sacramento and Placer counties. Send questions to Garden Detective, P.O. Box 15779, Sacramento, CA 95852. Send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please put “Garden Detective” in the subject field and include your postal address. To contact UC Extension directly, call:
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