The Blooming of the Tisa River

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 longtailed mayfly. When the natural phenomenon starts, clouds of these insects dive out of the water and begin their love dance and mating.

Where are the insects during the rest of the year?

Palingenia longicauda is the largest mayfly species in Europe, reaching up to the 12 cm in length. The story of the insects’ life cycle is unusual, even inspiring one. They spend 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 Blooming of Tisa River


Tisa River


Tisa mayflies (Palingenia longicauda)