Monday, May 25, 2009

THE LEAMINGTON HUM


Have you heard of the Taos Hum—that curious (It was even featured on the TV show, Unsolved Mysteries) persistent, annoying low-frequency noise that many (particularly male) Taos locals experience? Apparently there are similar hums in places in Europe and the U.K., New Zealand and Hawaii, too, but I have to be right up front here and tell you that Leamington, Ontario doesn’t really have one of those type of hums. However, for a period of time every spring, we do have something that is equally spooky and very awe-inspiring.

I recently posted about the arrival of the first few midges of the season, and hinted that they would soon show up in very large numbers. Well, like that little girl in front of the TV in the “Poltergeist” movie, all I can say to you is, “They’re ba-ack!” These midges, with their mosquito-like whine, have converged in such mind-boggling numbers that you can hear them if you are standing inside by an open window at twilight, when they take to wing and form huge balls of agitation overhead. If you stand outside chatting with a friend like I was the other evening, it’s startling how intrusive the sound can be.

During the day, the hordes are quiet, because they’re not flying. They hang out on shady screens, doors, windows, siding—anything, really, that’s out of the sun. When the sun moves around and cuts into the shade, the line of midges takes on the same shape or angle as the shadow, leaving the rest of their roost to take the heat. And for something that is short-lived and doesn’t, I’m told, actually eat, they leave myriad little droppings all over doors, windows, and siding. Pressure washing is a good business to be in this town.

The night I took these photos, the twilight dance started at about six or eight feet off the ground, and rose up into what could have been infinity for all anyone could tell. And the individual balls of midges merged into one gigantic swarm that covered the entire sky. Parts of it over the neighbor’s house a few doors down were condensing and stretching just like those huge winter flocks of starlings and other birds do. I caught a few shots of their amoeba-like clouds against the light, it was amazing—but I was careful in my awe to keep my mouth closed!


(photos enlarge)

11 comments:

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Deb, Oooooh---that's spooky... Think I would stay inside my home at nights during their visit.. Wonder where they go?????

We have the cicadas---that come around certain years ---and their 'hum' is amazing to hear.

Interesting post. Thanks!!!

Have a great day.
Hugs,
Betsy

Rose said...

Deb, I don't envy you at all! sometimes something like them can drive me crazy!

Sue said...

Very interesting about the midges -- had no idea that they could be that thick. Thanks for the reference about the Taos Hum. I'd never heard of that, but I am familiar with that type of phenomenon. In our family, however, I'm the one who hears the Hum, and not my husband. In our neighborhood, I've actually isolated the source of the hum (a neighbors hot tub), but it is interesting that I can hear the hum more loudly inside my bedroom, than if I step outside. I think that there must be sympathetic vibrations -- perhaps between the exterior Hum and the wiring of the house?

Rose said...

Thanks for looking up my wildflower--I just had not had time to even attempt it.

Sylvia K said...

Those do sound weird and spooky! Wow! Learn something new or that I just never knew, from your posts nearly every day. They're always a delight as are your photos! I have heard of the Taos Hum, though! Have a great day!

Quiet Paths said...

Mercy! As my southern relatives would say. You need mosquito netting clothing to go outside! It's good protein for someone I guess. Yuck.

Lin said...

that is just amazing. we have cicadas here also later in the summer and they are loud. just glad these midges don't bite people...

bobbie said...

Oh no. I don't think I want to be in your neck of the woods this time of year!

Wren said...

I will never, ever complain about cicadas again. At least they don't come around every year.

mom/caryn said...

I've never even heard of a "midge" before reading your post. I'm ever so happy they aren't biters. Can you imagine???

But, as tiny as they are, and as thick as they are, I can see inhaling them or having one land in your eye... urp. gag.

This is a short term condition, right?

I promise not to complain at all... really, not a word... about our snowing cotton from the silver leafed cottonwood trees. I prefer that over your clouds of flying, humming insects.

Ramblings of a Villas Girl said...

Hi Deborah! This is amazing. However I don't think I would go outside at night. Lisa