This past weekend, the family decided to do some work out to camp. And the black flies found us immediately. Now, I expect that sort of thing out by the lake. The woods are still pretty swampy, and there's a lot of damp dead wood lying about. All perfection for  black fly breeding season.

I was reading an article in Downeast Magazine, and found myself agreeing with their general feeling toward the cursed little beasties. They are just unforgiving creatures of constant torment, designed specifically by nature, to ruin any outdoor fun you may have thought about having. Every time you move, there's another one poking it's useless existence into my business.

There's just something them that is almost annoying on a soul level, like the way they just implant themselves into your eyes and face. To the point of feeling like it's inescapable, as though you're trapped in Mother Nature's own forcefully imposed escape room, but there's no door out. They just fly right into your hat brim, or between your glasses and your face....anywhere that will cause you the most disturbance. Maybe they're just reincarnated door to door salespeople that can't take no for an answer.

We notice them most in the Spring, but they can totally be a summer long nuisance. Leon Tsomides an aquatic bug scientist from the Maine Bureau of Land and Water Quality, had this to say:

Generally, they emerge in spring, have one generation, and are gone by July. But there is a species on the Penobscot River, and a few other places, that has multiple generations. So people who live in the Winn and Lincoln area may have blackflies all summer long because new generations keep emerging.

So even though the old wive's tale says that black fly season is only a few weeks long, they can haunt us in our dreams, as well as when we're wide awake, well into the summer months, depending on location.

But what can you really do about it? Well, here are a few ways those annoying flying jerks will find you:

  • Your breath. Blackflies detect carbon dioxide in your exhalations. This likely explains their tendency to swarm around your head.
  • Your temperature. Blackflies are drawn to a warm body.
  • Your wardrobe. Blackflies are attracted to dark colors.

So, there are a few ways you can try and stave off these winged warriors of hate. Maybe try a few of these, and do some experimenting on your own too. there's no rules, but we have to try something, right?!

  • Cover up. Wear head nets and long sleeved-shirts and pants in light colors.
  • Mind the forecast.Avoid the woods on cloudy days when blackflies are more active. Bright sun and breezes seem to keep them at bay.
  • Use insect repellents. Those containing DEET work best.

I'm loathe to admit that you could maybe put a positive spin on the little marauders, but it's true. They offer us very little, but let's celebrate the good things. If that's possible. Their presence is a sign of good water quality. In the 60's Maine didn't have nearly as many because our rivers were so polluted. So their skyrocketing numbers are a testament to our strides in environmental protection.

They also carry no diseases. So when you compare them to ticks and mosquitoes, who carry actual diseases meant to do harm to humans, they're like the little annoying step-siblings that do no harm, but you still want Mom and Dad to do something about. And they're a great food source for fish, birds, and bats. The last one I'm especially OK with. Mostly because it means there are some black flies that are meeting their maker instead of eating my face.

We did have a lot of precipitation this winter, so it's gonna be a doozie. Not to mention the loads of rain we got in April. So, we're gonna get it in the end. I just hope that somehow, somewhere, I can find the patience to let flygones be flygones.




More From WQCB Brewer Maine