Mosquitoes and blackflies, it’s time!
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.