Named after the river on which it takes place every year from late spring to early summer, the Blooming of the Tisza is an incredible natural phenomenon that attracts tourists from all around the world to Hungary. As millions of long-tailed mayflies reach sexual maturity, they shed their larvae skin and burst from the river in search of a mate before dying just a few hours later.
There are around 2,000 species of mayfly worldwide. Measuring up to five inches from their head to the end of their appendages, Tisza’s Palingenia longicauda, also known as the long-tailed mayfly, is Europe’s largest. Mayflies live most of their lives as larvae in large colonies on the bottom of rivers. After three years, they shed their larvae skins and emerge from the water as sexual mature adults. Because they have a limited amount of time to reproduce -about three hours – as soon as they are able to fly, they prowl for potential mates. Males try to pass on their genes to the next generation at any cost, often forcing themselves on the females, and even clinging to them when they are still in larvae form. This mating frenzy lasts for three or four days, during which time the whole area around the Tizsa river becomes engulfed in a seemingly impenetrable humming fog.
Photo: Solvin Zankl/Visuals Unlimited,Inc.
After mating, the females fly upstream to lay their eggs in a safe area where their offspring won’t be taken away by the strong river currents, and after just three hours as adults, they die, their tiny corpses covering the water and shores of the Tisza River like a thick coat. The Blooming of the Tizsa is not only a popular tourist attraction, but also a phenomenon crucial to the mayflies’ survival since their population has gradually decreased as a result of human settlement expansion and pollution of river systems which destroy their natural habitat. The Tisza River remains one of the few still suitable places for mayflies to thrive, but according to recent reports, conservation efforts are finally paying off as a new mayfly colony has apparently made its home in the Danube River, 30 kilometers from Budapest.
Photo: Pfeffer I. Ferenc
Photo: Magyar Tudat
Photo: Sardi A. Zoltan