Blackflies Matter


Sorry about the pun, it just came out that way while I was pondering the deeper meanings of blackflies, which I feed, as I go about grounds keeping chores. I have a small Dragonfly operation in Thorne, and blackflies are the bait which attracts them in droves. Blackflies help keep the back country from being totally over-run by “citiots”, people who come to the country for
a lark. They ride 4-wheelers at dust-raising speed, or they buy up waterfront cottages, where they spend their time indoors, while full-time locals go about the mundane tasks that keep things running and safe. Roads need maintenance, which is neither easy nor inexpensive. Week-enders convoy from one waterhole to the next, sometimes while covering more than half of
the road, sometimes doing donuts at intersections. I’m sure that some locals are extracting cash from this influx by selling beer, gas and snacks to the weary travellers, but others are inundated with clouds of dust, accompanied by the noise of low-grade motorsport.

But back to the bugs. Blackflies are what keeps the light-weight visitors from slowing down and taking in the sights of nature’s bounty, which are the solace of pedestrians and bicyclers. Dragonflies are the insect saviours that feed from the swarms of blackflies and mosquitoes, keeping us, their human bait, just short of slow death from blood and flesh losses. Blackflies emerge hungry, and that’s where humans are helpful; we can feed them until the dragonflies arrive and join the feast.

It’s not an entirely one-sided transaction; blackfly larvae which live in moving water are a main food source for trout, and adult blackflies pollinate blueberries. So it’s one big happy feast, each species contributing within its means, to a circle of life that is too subtle for the passing motorist to observe.

If you love eating blueberries or trout, do your part by feeding blackflies and mosquitoes. Your flesh and blood will not go to waste. The dragonflies are there for our entertainment as well as our salvation. There’s hardly a more welcome sight than a dragonfly perching on one’s shoulder, crunching down on a blackfly. For extra points, look up the four-part life cycle of dragonflies; it’s fascinating, and I have had the privilege of observing all four stages up close – you won’t see that on a motor-driven vehicle.

Robert Wills