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It’s possible they snuck one by me while I was otherwise engaged, but I doubt it. I think of myself as an informed individual and try and keep up with breaking news and trends and features, but maybe I’m slipping.
Most years, by this time, I would have seen a least one newspaper article on Maine’s insufferable yet somehow detestable black fly.
We’ve all seen the headlines in past years: Black flies due, despite cold spring; Dry weather may not affect black fly numbers; This year’s black fly season could be worst in memory.
Maybe it’s not me. Maybe newspapers are slipping. It’s possible that there are too many people from away on staff at our newspapers, people not familiar with the role black flies play in Maine around the time of the summer solstice. Or, maybe they just don’t have the room they used to have and don’t want to deal with black fly stories. As Bob Dylan said: … “the times they are a-changin’”
There was a time in Maine, as spring moved slowly into summer, when you could make a reader sit up and take notice just by mentioning black flies in an article. Nothing would make an individual focus like a laser than the inclusion of “black flies” in a headline. So, I ask, where are those stories? Where are those headlines?
Past articles have enlightened us with such need-to-know facts as: black flies breed in clean, running water, unlike mosquitoes , which breed in murkey, still water. Doesn’t it make those nasty black fly bites a little easier to take just knowing where the little rascal who bit you was bred?
Somehow the reporters who write such stories think we’ll feel better knowing that there are forty distinct species of black fly and each species hatches at a different times making Maine’s black fly experience last that much longer than any of us would like.
Don’t you feel special just knowing that? I do.
Black fly articles of the past have also given tips on how to discourage black flies from biting you. Did you know that black flies are strongly influenced by color? Who knew? Bug experts, knew, that’s who knew.
Black flies find dark colors more attractive than pale colors. Try and remember that as you choose your gardening wardrobe this summer.
All very interesting.
But if you have any experience with black flies you know that you can wear whatever you want because black flies are determined little rascals and when it’s dinner time you’ll still look like a Happy Meal to a black fly, whether you’re wearing red, orange, yellow, green, blue, violet, or any combination. The point is: you’re still going to get eaten alive outdoors in Maine in black fly season, so stop your griping and just deal with it while you’re outside.
Having said all that, I still wonder where the annual black fly articles are. Don’t get me wrong. It’s not like I’m sitting around on pins and needles wondering when the black fly articles will appear in my newspaper; articles that will tell us if there’ll be many black flies about to affect our quality of life and ruin our gardening experiences and force us to cancel our cookouts this summer and maybe, in desperation, move to Arizona.
Come to think of it, I’d opt for the pins-and-needles treatment over a backyard full of black flies – any day of the week.
And you know what? I may have just written my own annual black fly newspaper article.
Now, where was I?
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at or 899-1868.
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