The Washington Post

In Ocean City surf: Dead bugs

First in an occasional series of reports examining the downsides of going to the beach.

There are a lot of dead bugs in the water.

Dead bugs are not visible in this photo of the Ocean City beach, but you never know. Bugs are small and crafty. (Amanda Voisard/The Washington Post)

The dead bugs, which include mosquitoes, gnats and flies, are apparently churning up all over Ocean City beaches. They ride in on waves, according to the report:

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.”

If that sounds comforting, I’m sorry, but I have something mildly gross to add about how the bugs often disappear: “ ... the bugs are typically removed naturally, either by fish or birds eating them, or they’ll gradually break down and disappear.”

Break down? Into lots of really small parts? That might wash into my mouth? This is why I generally prefer pools.

Have fun at the beach.

Michael Rosenwald is a reporter on the Post's local enterprise team. He writes about the intersection of technology, business and culture.

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