NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — Nighttime drivers on the Causeway are taking some unwanted passengers with them, bugs that smash against their cars, die and smell like fish.

“The midges are back,” Causeway General Manager Carlton Dufrechou told WGNO News.

The midges are flies that prefer fresh water. Depending upon rainfall and other factors, the midges can find the usually brackish water of the lake to be an ideal spot to meet and multiply.

In 2019, after the Bonnet Carre Spillway gates were opened to relieve flooding on the Mississippi River, diverted fresh water settled along the top of much of the lake. During that midge season, some drivers could not continue their trips across the bridge without stopping to clean their windshields. Causeway police officers carried washer fluid and squeegees.

After years of little to no midge activity, they’re back this summer. While their numbers generally are not as high as 2019, many drivers are seeing hundreds or even thousands caking on their cars’ windshield, grills and bumpers.

“If it gets really bad, just pull in to one of the segmented shoulders or crossovers, give us a call, we’ll help you clean them off to get you back home,” Dufrechou said.

“It’s a great habitat for them,” Zack Lemann from the Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium told WGNO News.

Lemann is the animal curator and says that drivers on the Causeway Bridge should be prepared to deal with the flies at their current level into August.

“And you’ll see them into September pretty heavy. By October, there will be far fewer midges,” Lemann said.

If you find your car coated in the smashed flies, the best way to remove them is to do it quickly. The longer you wait, the more difficult it can be to wash the bugs from your car’s paint and windshield.