Black fly – The Bug. The Legend.

Black flies are also called turkey gnats and buffalo gnats, and people who live in black fly country have a whole bunch of other names for them that can’t be repeated here. Entomologists call them true flies (order Diptera) in the family Simuliidae. There are more than 1,800 species in the family worldwide (100 in North America; 30 in Wisconsin), and most of them belong in the huge genus Simulium. What do they look like? Their hump-backed thorax and down-tilted head makes buffalo gnat a good nickname. BFs are tiny (5 to 10 mm) and dark, with clear wings, many-segmented antennae, and big eyes (and teeth, just kidding).

The Twelve Bugs of Christmas 2019

Bumblebee

Let’s celebrate the (almost bugless) Season with a dozen bugs that were photographed this year. Down through the centuries, various regional versions of the classic Christmas carol have included hares a-running, ducks quacking, badgers baiting, bulls a-roaring, biting cows, bears a-beating, cocks a-crowing, asses racing, starlings, plovers, goldspinks (goldfinches), sides of meat, ponies, deer, stalks of corn, cheese, windmills, and an Arabian Baboon. Never any bugs, though, so it’s up to us.

Horsefly

Horsefly

The first rule of finding insects is “Look on flowers.” Flowers provide a place to rest, as well as a place to eat and be eaten. The second rule is “if you see an insect that’s really still (or in an odd position), look for a predator nearby.” So, when the BugLady spotted a horizontal horse fly, she knew that something was afoot, and she soon located the ambush bug above and to the left of the fly (the fly’s eyes were a bonus).

Stilt-legged fly

Stilt-legged Fly

The BugLady had a “Stop the Presses” moment as she was writing this week’s BOTW. When she hiked down to the mailbox, she saw a fly that she had never seen before, from a family she’s never seen before, skating over the top of a leaf, and she bumped it to the head of the line.

Black Fly (Family Simuliidae)

Black flies are tiny and dark, with clear wings, many-segmented antennae, and big eyes. Their larvae like lots of oxygen and are not tolerant of warmer waters or pollution. Adult BFs live for about three weeks, laying 150 to 500 eggs either individually on the water’s surface or in clumps. Like other biting flies, males are blameless nectar feeders. Females may also consume nectar, but they need that all-important blood meal in order to reproduce.