Saturday, May 2, 2009

Black Fly Season

There's an article about the Maine Blackfly Breeders Association: 'We breed 'em, You feed 'em' in the Sun Journal called Their wit? Biting.  It's blackfly time again here in Maine.  Soon the black flies will drive the Moose out of the woods onto the highways.  The nasty thing about these creatures is you don't know you've been bitten until it's over, then you have a big welt that hurts. An Arizona lab asked this group to send them some flies for research and they had to figure out how to catch some to do it. In reality the group is a bunch of Mainers trying to cope with winter and have a bit of fun.
The 11th annual convention at the end of February, a morning of food, limericks and costumed competition, drew 116 people. Someone is bestowed the "Breeder of the Year" title and, in the past, the group has also offered up a presidential candidate. ("The Blackfly party is the only political party with both a right and left wing," says Garner-Jackson.)

"You figure they have a lot of cabin fever. They'll go to anything," Dowling said.
There was, however, a cloud over this winter's convention: Organizers announced, to great outcry, that it was intended to be the last. Right now, it's at something like "we'll see" status. What's certain: another float in the Machias Fourth of July parade.

"We try to get as many people to come and be black flies," Garner-Jackson said. "They wear black. We give them a set of wings and some red stickers and a kazoo. So they run through the crowd playing their kazoo and then they put red stickers on people (pretending to bite them)."

A first-place parade win in 2000 and its $1,000 prize kicked off the association's charitable bent. Members split the money among an animal shelter, hospice, food pantry and Big Brothers Big Sisters. Since then, mostly from merchandise proceeds, it's given away thousands, Garner-Jackson said.
I didn't know there was anything good about the nasty little biters (the flies, not the group) , but here's the scoop:
  • They're indicative of clean water. They're bird and fish food.
  • They help pollinate blueberries.
  • And, not to be overlooked: "They help keep the people population down," she said. "We don't want it to get too crowded."
That's it.  Keep Maine underpopulated.  Don't want the world knowing about a good thing.


Grandmère Mimi said...

Amelia, we have our share of flies, but not too many of the biting kind. The large ones, which we call horse flies, do bite, but they come around only occasionally. Thank goodness.

All the critters, even the annoying and dangerous ones, have their purpose in God's creation.

motheramelia said...

Mimi, these are very small, gnat-like creatures. Last summer I got a few bites on the back of my neck and on my ankle and boy did they hurt. Fortunately the season usually ends by early July. That group sounds like fun. They're in Washington County which is in the Northeast part of the state on the coast and wild blueberries are big there and these creatures help the pollination, so they do have their purpose. Up here I suppose they mainly feed the fish and birds, although there are some blueberries here too.