Friday, May 11, 2007

Family Simuliidae

The leaves are coming out now, not just buds, but actual fresh green leaves. The frogs are slowing down, their nightly chorus diminishing in density as they complete their seasonal rituals. Yesterday morning as I was preparing coffee I heard a loon crying out from the lake across the road. The ants and the bees and wasps are out and they are hungry after a long winter.
And then, there are the black flies. They are the surest and most powerful sign of spring. For those of you who are not privileged to live in the Great North Woods of the East, Black Flies are a species of the Family Simuliidae. They are renowned for the way they love to swarm around your head, crawl into the hair around your hairline, or behind your ears, and bite. There are also some species that don't bite, but still love to fly around your face. They start in soon after the snow melts and the running water in the streams warms up just a bit, and the will continue in this part of New England until mid June, depending on the weather. Further north and in higher elevations they may last until mid July. After that, we don't really notice them again until next year.
While they are here, they are much worse than mosquitoes for their sheer aggravation factor. Because their appearance and disappearance are so pronounced, we call this time of year Black Fly Season.
For all their aggravation, I find that I actually feel a certain fondness for for the Black Fly. Mostly I think this is because the Black Flies keeps the tourists from becoming too numerous too early in the season. Tourists are actually just another form of swarming insect that infests the region on a seasonal basis. The primary difference between the two is that tourist bring money, and so we generally tolerate them better.

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