Love is in the air — literally. Swarms of mating bugs around Toronto are creating black clouds that annoy runners, cyclists and rollerbladers working out along the waterfront.
They're midges, non-biting yet intrusive members of the fly family that emerge in the spring after spending the cold months buried in the muck of Lake Ontario, CTV News reported.
Though they're most prominent along the waterfront, the insects have been seen all over the city, congregating in mating swarms that look like black clouds of smoke.
So just think about that when you're running along the water and the bugs end up inside your mouth.
While they may aggravate outdoor athletes, they serve an important purpose, entymology technician Antonia Guidotti told the network.
"When they emerge, the adults are food for birds, for purple martins and for sparrows," she said.
"They're food for bats, they're food for dragonflies, adult dragonflies, so they actually are quite good for our environment."
That's unlikely to serve as consolation for the people who accidentally ingest the bugs.
"We rode through black clouds of those things, glasses on, mouth closed, nose closed," Natalya Kuziak told CBC News, after cycling through the bugs along the lakeshore.
The mosquito-like insects are attracted to light, which may explain why they fly towards the condominiums along the waterfront.
There are more of them around this year because last summer was wetter than normal.
"These are the adults emerging from last year's crop," Ontario Science Centre researcher David Sugarman told CBC.
Midges only live for a few weeks, but they have an active mating cycle that can produce as many as four generations in a year, The Toronto Star reported in 2009.
The best way to avoid eating them while they're getting it on?
Keep your head down, put glasses on and maybe wear a bandana over your mouth, Toronto Cyclists Union executive director Yvonne Bambrick told the Star at the time.
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