‘The smell is atrocious’: Fish flies piling up


GIMLI, Man. – Mounds of ankle-deep fish flies are piling up in the Manitoba town of Gimli where town workers are scooping them with shovels and filling dozens of garbage bags at a time.

Park patrol supervisor Gibby Finnbogason says the town on the shore of Lake Winnipeg is used to the regular mid-July visit from the fish flies — but this year is different.

He says easterly winds have carried the insects into the town in droves, covering sidewalks and the boardwalk by the beach.

“Traditionally, you will see them in mounds on the ground but we’re not used to seeing them in quite the large amounts that we’re seeing them right now,” he says.

“On Monday morning, we bagged 42 (garbage) bags of fish flies and that was just the high areas on the boardwalk on the beach.”

He says the flies only live for 24 hours and give off an “atrocious” smell once they die.

“It smells like a rotting carcass of a fish,” Finnbogason says. “Especially when they are wet, it’s even worse.”

They look similar to a dragonfly, except without a mouth, and cling to any surface they can find — from windows and cars to people’s clothing.

“When I’m done my shift, I’ll have anywhere from five to 50 of them attached to my body. They’re all over the place.”

They are virtually impossible to avoid when walking down the street, crunching underfoot.

“They make quite an awful sound,” he says. “You can just hear the crunching of the carcasses under your feet as you walk and you get the smell along with that. It’s quite the experience.”

With both the town’s annual film festival and Icelandic festival looming, Finnbogason says hopes are high the flies will disappear soon.

“People will be happy that fish flies will be just a bad memory by the time those events come to Gimli.”

— By Chinta Puxley in Edmonton


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