Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shadfly Season

Every year around this time, we are visited at the cottage by the shadfly.  Our elderly neighbour used to dread the weekend when they would appear and she would avoid coming to the cottage when they were around if she could or go back to the city if they arrived while she was already there.  I could never understand why, because of all the insects, this is by far one of the most benign.  They are completely harmless, they don't bite, they don't make any noise, they just attach themselves to a window screen and hang out for no more than a day or two (their life span is measured in hours) and then they are gone, with only the shells of one or two left behind to remind you that they were even there.

I've been watching them come and go for more than 30 years now and just taken them for granted as part of the flora and fauna of cottage life.  Today, I took that a step further and actually Googled them.  What did I find? One single website dedicated entirely to shadflies!  You will find it here.  I had no idea the shadfly was the oldest insect alive!  Apparently they are useful when tied to a fishing hook, as walleye are especially fond of them.  The story of slippery roads and multitudes of these insects congregating under street lights is, thank God, something we don't experience in our area (Nipissing, Ontario being much farther north than where we are).  The idea of shadfly poetry and jewellery is quite amusing, but I guess dragonflies and fireflies have received similar treatment so why not?

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