Bugs! Lots! (Fungus Gnats)
March 8, 2010
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During our walk today: “Come quick! I found bugs*! Lots!”
Fungus Gnats - Mycetophilidae
And so she had. A gathering of Fungus Gnats beneath the bark of a dead white pine**. As I dashed over with my camera, they started to stir. By the time I’d snapped a few hasty pics, most of them had scampered away or simply dropped from the bare side of the tree to the snowy ground below.
Their legs are adorned with very long bristles as well as robust spurs. Their heads are mostly hidden from an overhead view, thanks to their strongly humped thoraces. They have fairly long antennae, for flies. These critters are about the size of your average mosquito (which I mistook them for, initially). Unlike mosquitoes, whose young develop in bodies of calm/stagnant water, the larvae of these gnats can be found in decaying vegetation and fungi.
The markings on their wings look like jagged, jack-o’-lantern-esque frowny-faces. Ha.
* My wife does actually know that a “bug” means a particular type of insect, but I use “bug” so often to describe anything with six legs that she’s given up trying to correct me.
** Dead white pines are extremely dangerous, by the way. I almost lost an eye on a snapped branch. Ow.