Monday, May 18, 2009

GET READY, HERE THEY COME!


Along the north shore, the first wave of summer bugs has arrived. Before they're done, we'll see their number increase to the many MANY millions. The first to arrive are called midges - although there are quite a few insects around here that are smaller. It seems any small bug can be a midge. Except for the Mayflies. They are called "fishflies." But some locals call midges fishflies, too. The bottom line is: identifying small annoying insects on the lake in not an exact science.

Whatever their taxonomic name might be, the current midges are about a half-inch long, have splayed stance reminiscent of a water strider, bushy antennae like a moth, and they whine like mosquitoes. Their only saving grace is that they don't actually bite - but they do like to get caught in your hair, preferably right beside your ear, so the not-biting thing doesn't really get a chance to sink in. The standard summer gesture around here is walking around fanning your hand in front of your face like you just smelled something bad. You're really just trying to keep from inhaling or eating a midge. Birds, on the other hand, love to eat midges. Starling and grackles work the lawns, dipping and nipping until they have huge midge pom-poms in their beaks, some almost as big as their heads! Then they fly off to stuff the midge-poms into the gaping mouth of some hungry baby. As often as this happens, it doesn't make eve a sliver of a dent in the midge population. And in a short while, when they arrive in full force, the white sides of my house and garage will turn gray with densely-packed (excuse me, I have to rub my face and hair!) midges. In the heat of summer, they form huge clouds high in the twilight. Their collective hum is like some strange background noise left over from the Big Bang; it's very cosmic-sounding! You can even hear the hum indoors if you're standing by an open window!

Last night, I went to the porch to watch the Victoria Day fireworks along the lakeshore, and against the fading light, I watched a tiny bat, working the night shift, busily honing in on any night flying midges. But no matter how many bats and birds and other predators there are, they will still come - the midges and fishflies and their ilk. They might be small but they outnumber the stars!



Photos: 1) a midge, 2) last light

18 comments:

Sylvia K said...

Lovely, interesting and fun as always! Love the last photo! Have a great week, Deborah!

Lin said...

fun photo, there's always some drawback to every season...

Carolyn said...

Hi Deborah, I have just back read some of your posts and have enjoyed catching up....I much prefer your idea of a "cowboy squirrel"! I miss the hype of the 2-4 weekend that is part of the annual ritual of Ontario....it really is just a long weekend here in BC. I hope it was a wonderful weekend. The Grand Hall does serve lunch beside those beautiful windows and they rent the space out for the sum of $10,000 for a wedding reception, event etc.! My daughter works there and I was blessed to be invited to a show opening reception in that space and it was breath taking.
Smiles

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Deb, We have some bugs down here in summer --which we call "No-Seeums" (since we feel them but can't see the darn things. I don't like bugs of any-kind... Yuk!!! When we hike in summer, we have to take 'bug spray' with us...

Have a great Monday.
Hugs,
Betsy

Beth P. said...

Ahhhhhh!
Thank you, dear Deb, for this little snapshot of your world. I breathed out...

bobbie said...

Noseeums are no fun! I can attest to that. But the mosquito - the state bird of NJ - has to be the worst. I do believe they will be here in record numbers this year. They have already started.

Your last light photo is fabulous!

SandyCarlson said...

I hope the bats stay busy!

Shellmo said...

I'm glad they don't bite! Mosquitoes love me....I am always slathered in insect repellent when those muggy summer nights arrive!

fourwindsphotojournal said...

Here it is the blackflies that drive us crazy in the summer. Do you have them? They are in the woods behind the house now, but aren't in the yard yet.

People up here sometimes buy dragonflies to release, but I have never heard if it really works that great.

Just the joys of warm weather, huh?

Rose said...

Today the gnats decided to return...trying to swing and feed Lorelei and they would not leave us alone. Then I get on here and read about all your insects and realize we don't have it quite so bad. Mosquitos and gnats seem to be the worst we get...not that the mosquitos aren't bad enough.

Oh, I almost forgot--LOVE that 'Last Light' picture.

Annie said...

Bats are so interesting to watch. I vote for net covered headgear, pants, and long sleeves. Also a good compfy chair to watch the show at night.

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Deborah! I would be in the shower ever ten minutes. Bugs give me the itches. We are going to have a bad year with gnats and skitters. Can't even water without coming in with welts all over. Take a picture of the swarm if you can. Must be something to see. Lisa

Kallen305 said...

Don't even get me started about all of the lousy bugs out there that like to drive me crazy! Another reason to love birds and bats!

Cloudia said...

Cosmic buzz!
That's what I feel in your pictures ;-)

Let's call our band: "Summer Bugs."

Aloha, Deborah

magiceye said...

oh yes... they sure can be a nuisance!
excellent images!

Quiet Paths said...

We get tiny (what we call midges here) too but I don't think they are what you have. They usually skim the surface of lakes in thick hatches but not too often. The fish love 'em. I remember the black flies from MI. Eegads. They were awful.

Glennis said...

What a pity so many annoying insects spoil an evening outside, the evening looks so pleasant too.

Ruth said...

I don't like mosquitoes and black flies, but non-biting insects are so interesting. When we go to Manitoulin Is in early July, there are usually large numbers of Mayflies everywhere. The birds come out in the open to catch them and the fish eat the ones that fall on the water. This equals great birding and fishing.