Wave of dead bugs appears in Ocean City

Hayden Garner, 10, of Columbia, Md., studies some of the dead insects that have shown up in the ocean in Ocean City.

Hayden Garner, 10, of Columbia, Md., studies some of the dead insects that have shown up in the ocean in Ocean City.

By JON BLEIWEIS on DELMARVA NOW

Ocean City — A few unwelcomed guests recently joined beachgoers in the ocean, and it’s a sight many don’t want to see.

Dead bugs — mosquitoes, gnats and flies — lined the surf this week, but it hasn’t stopped swimmers from enjoying the ocean. “There’s a lot of bugs in there whenever the waves come in,” said Stacey Chaney, who was visiting the 140th Street beach from Johnstown, Pa., with her children. But the bugs didn’t stop the Chaneys from enjoying their beach vacation. “You’re on vacation,” she said. “You want to go in there and relax.” “And have fun,” her son, Jon, 9, added. Tom Parham, director of tidewater ecosystem assessment at the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, said bugs can be blown onto the beach or near shore areas when there are westerly winds. “They’re land-based insects,” he said. “There’s only so far they can go.” Roman Jesien, science coordinator at the Maryland Coastal Bays Program, said bugs typically lay their eggs in the marsh and the westerly winds carry them to the beach. According to Jesien, bugs in the ocean are typically in the water for just a few days.

“They just come and go very quickly,” he said. “It shouldn’t be much longer.” Lt. Mike Stone of the Ocean City Beach Patrol said the rate at which the bugs show up depends on the weather. More often than not, he said, the bugs make their appearance after a storm front passes through, as do bigger waves. “Sometimes when the winds come out of the west and over the bay, we don’t get as much wind because the buildings and dunes block the wind,” he said. “We typically have a lot more bugs on those days.”Stone said the bugs are typically removed naturally, either by fish or birds eating them, or they’ll gradually break down and disappear.

Easton resident Brie Taylor said she wasn’t scared about the extra company in the water — she’s seen the bugs in the ocean before — but it might stop her from doing what she wanted to do. “I guess there’s no bodysurfing today because you don’t want to lay in all the bugs,” she said. “I’ll probably try digging out a spot that’s clear so I can actually bodysurf. “Jon Chaney said he had a fun day at the beach, despite the bugs. “They don’t look scary to me,” he said. “I just pretend they’re not there.”

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