Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Day 3, May in Maine...

I couldn't write about May in Maine without mentioning black flies.  This rather bland name does nothing to describe the horror of what is known as "black fly season," in Maine. Tiny, dark colored flies that hatch in the millions in early summer. There are actually 40 different species of Simuliidae family active here. Unlike mosquitoes, which hatch from standing water, black flies hatch in vast swarms from running water, of which there is plenty in Maine.  They can travel several miles from where they are hatched, and become active when the temperature climbs above 50 degrees Fahrenheit. Local lore says they are active from May until July, but during a wet summer they may be a nuisance well after that.

Since they can be dissuaded from feasting when there is a brisk wind, I spend a lot of time wishing for breezy days this time of year.  People wear netting over their faces and torsos, douse themselves in insect repellent sprays, and spend a lot of time waving their hands in front of their faces.  If you have never experienced them, you may think this is a much ado about nothing, but trust me, the wee things can drive you mad. 

There are stories of moose in the deep woods being driven crazy by the flies, and they can even prove to be fatal if the animal begins the season in poor condition. Though each fly takes just one drop of blood, the sheer numbers of them are enough to cause major blood loss.

We saw this moose in May several years ago.  She and her two calves were dining by the side of the road up near Greenville somewhere.  Clouds of flies were harassing them. I dearly wished I could share some bug spray.

It was pretty clear how she felt about the pesky things! 

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