The end of May and the beginning of June every year go along with a unique dance of life and death above the mirror-like waters of the Tisa River in northern Serbia. The endemic insects fly out of the water in order to breed and conduct a day-long dance of love, before they fall dead on the surface of the water. These dances transform the river into a busy place of shifting pink, black and cream colored wings that make the river itself look like it's blooming with flowers. Popularly this species of insect is called “The Tisa flower”, and the unique natural phenomenon is called "blooming of the Tisa river."
The insect responsible for the blooming of the Tisa river is Palingenia longicauda or long-tailed mayfly. When the natural phenomenon starts, clouds of these insects dive out of the water and begin their love dance and mating. Their ritual dance lasts only several hours, and exhausted insects drop down with the settling of the sun in the dusk. Nature takes its course, and once the mating is over and the eggs are laid, the dance is over. With the last specimen stirring up the surface of the Tisa, the river becomes calm and quiet until next year.
Palingenia longicauda is the largest mayfly species in Europe, reaching up to the 12 cm in length. The story of their life cycle is unusual, even inspiring one. They spend the most of their lives, the incredible three years, in the larval phase, living in the mud at the bottom of the river. This means that the moment they become adults, they fly out, reproduce, lay eggs, and finish off the long cycle, succumbing to the powerful Tisa river. The synchronized hatching of the Tisa flower is one of nature’s breathtaking sights, as the large insects create a dance-like appearance above the surface of the river.
The Tisa flower insects follow its calendar, so the blooming of the river Tisa is never at the same date. Most of the time it happens during the first week of June and lasts up to seven days. It’s a good idea to spend this week nearby, exploring the plains of Vojvodina, the quirky city of Novi Sad and idyllic villages of Fruska Gora - Sremski Karlovci or Vrdnik. Every year, the incredible natural phenomenon of blooming of the Tisa River is in the national news, and many locals who live nearby rush to take photos and enjoy the view. Usually, there are organized group visits to Novi Becej, a small town where the blooming takes place.
Even though this event is unique not only in Europe but in the whole world, it’s not very well known and promoted internationally. The blooming of the river Tisa is another opportunity where we can admire the diversity of nature and all of its inhabitants, even those less familiar to us.
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