The Bug Geek

Insects. Doing Science. Other awesome, geeky stuff.

Black flies (holy @#$%!!!)

The far north is definitely renowned for many things: cold temperatures, vast open landscapes, charismatic wildlife, and…biting flies.  Entomologists have been collecting and studying black flies, horse/deer flies (apparently they are called “bulldogs” here – awesome!), and mosquitoes in the north for decades; they were one of the primary taxa of interest during the Northern Insect Survey of the mid-1900s.

My research group is no exception: we are busily trapping adult forms of these insects as well as their aquatic juvenile stages.  There are many rivers, streams and beautiful waterfalls in this area, the moving waters of which are prime black fly territory.

Cameron Falls (photo: P. Schaefer)

Behold, black fly larvae:

Black fly larvae (photo: C. Buddle)

The hand of yours truly on a submerged bit of birch log we pulled out of Cameron Falls (photo: C. Buddle)

A colleague, covered in larvae (and very happy about it - he's one of those Dip guys) (photo: C. Buddle)

Seriously, the quantity of larvae here is just mental.  I pity the locals 2 or 3 weeks from now – eep! Yesterday we were pulling rocks out of the water that were entirely encrusted with fly pupae – we were actually watching some new flies emerge as we scraped other pupae of the rocks.

Other aquatic goodies are abundant too…dragonflies, damselflies, mayflies, stoneflies, caddisflies…the waters are incredibly productive.

Big ol' Odonate

Net-building caddisflies

9 responses to “Black flies (holy @#$%!!!)

  1. dragonflywoman June 11, 2011 at 12:23 AM

    Yea for aquatics! Love these photos.

  2. jason June 11, 2011 at 8:40 AM

    Too cool! What a bounty. Though, as you say, I pity anyone in the area once all the neat-right-now stuff grows up into the sonofa…-ouch!-that-hurt stuff later.

    • TGIQ June 13, 2011 at 12:03 AM

      Yeah, it’s going to be rough around here very soon. We’re here for another week or so, I wonder if we’ll see the true face of the buggy NWTs?

  3. mthew June 13, 2011 at 4:42 PM

    This year in fashion: bug netting for the head is all the rage.

    • TGIQ June 13, 2011 at 6:14 PM

      One word: Watkins (it is awesome bug-juice). I also caved and bought this outdoorsy-thingie called a “Buff” today; my colleagues all have one and it does a great job of keeping blackflies out of your ears and hair (while also looking stylish!)

  4. Pingback: Black fly larvae live in running water, not you » Biodiversity in Focus Blog

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