Mos­qui­toes and black­flies, it’s time!

The Aurora (Labrador City) - - Editorial - Gary Shaw

Whether you’ve have been in Labrador West for years or only ex­pe­ri­enced one spring and sum­mer, you know about our mos­qui­toes and black­flies.

There are few places on this Earth that have flies with the in­ten­sity, the fe­ro­cious ap­petite and the numbers that we have.

We all have our ex­pe­ri­ences and our sto­ries about our world­fa­mous flies.

Once, my buddy and I were guid­ing fish­er­men from the United States on a fly-in fish­ing trip to the in­te­rior of Labrador.

We were sit­ting on a big rock just el­e­vated enough to catch a slight breeze. The fish­er­man just be­low us were cast­ing away on the river, to­tally cov­ered with bug nets and drip­ping fly dope.

There were clouds of black­flies and my buddy said with a grin, “Ya know, if the plane for some rea­son doesn’t come back for us, we at least won’t starve even if the guys don’t catch any fish. There are enough black­flies here, all we have to do is open our mouths and chew, there should be enough pro­tein in these black­flies to keep us alive for days.” Enough said, there were a lot of flies.

Fe­male mos­qui­toes need pro­tein for their eggs and must take blood to suc­cess­fully re­pro­duce. The males, how­ever, don’t need blood. They feed on the nec­tar of flow­er­ing plants.

Mos­qui­toes are slow fliers, even though the sound of that ir­ri­tat­ing buzz — with their wings beat­ing 300-600 beats per sec­ond — cer­tainly gives the im­pres­sion they are much faster than they ac­tu­ally are.

All mos­qui­toes re­quire wa­ter to breed suc­cess­fully; just a few inches of stand­ing wa­ter will do just fine. The fe­male de­posits her eggs and tiny lar­vae de­vel­ops quickly.

For the emerg­ing mos­qui­toes, car­bon diox­ide is the key sig­nal that a blood meal is near by. Mos­qui­toes can de­tect this car­bon diox­ide sig­nal up to 75 feet away. As they hone in on us, they are re­lent­less in their pur­suit of our blood. They will land on any ex­posed skin, pen­e­trate our skin and ex­tract the blood they re­quire.

Black­flies also need blood to suc­cess­fully breed and any an­i­mal or hu­man will do. Black­flies live com­fort­ably along any river or stream. Both sexes re­quire nec­tar for the en­ergy nec­es­sary for flight. Each fe­male black­fly will lay 150-600 eggs. The lar­vae live in the flow­ing wa­ter where they gather fine par­ti­cles of food.

These lar­vae at­tach them­selves to rocks and veg­e­ta­tion and com­plete their de­vel­op­ment in three to 14 days, de­pend­ing on wa­ter tem­per­a­ture and food avail­abil­ity. The adults emerge by float­ing to the sur­face mak­ing their way up­ward in a small bub­ble of air. When they emerge as adults they have a life span of about three weeks.

Males do not bite. The fe­males have mouth parts that cut the skin. These flies are nasty; they will crawl up shirt­sleeves, un­der pants and into hair. They can of­ten have us chewed up be­fore we even re­al­ize it.

At the end of the day, we are Labrado­ri­ans; these bugs are a part of our lives, like it or not. If you sim­ply can’t tol­er­ate them, you will be house­bound for an al­ready short spring and sum­mer.

The re­al­ity is that many of us need to be out­side for work and want to be out­side for play.

To com­bat the flies, wear long sleeves, tuck your pants into your socks and footwear and pick a bug spray that works for you.

Be ex­tra dili­gent to make sure young­sters are well pro­tected from these for­ag­ing bugs.

We have to share the Big Land with them. We can’t beat them. If we are go­ing out­doors, we have to join them.

PHOTO BY GARY SHAW

A mos­quito

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