Should we expect blackflies?

blackflyI am thinking – hoping, actually – that this sudden bit of cold weather we’ve had here in Ontario and Quebec will wreak some serious havoc with the blackfly population that might choose to call Queensborough home. Raymond and I are planning to be at the Manse this coming long weekend, and we could certainly do without blackflies in the mix. (Lord knows we have enough on our hands on the flying-pest front with the wasp situation.)

There were no blackflies around on our last visit, a couple of weeks ago, but our neighbour Sylvia – who was out doing yardwork, as was I – told me they’d arrive in a week or so, making outdoor work a lot less fun.

The funny thing is that I have no recollection of there being a lot of blackflies in Queensborough when I was growing up at the Manse in the 1960s and ’70s. I mean, they certainly were around at this time of year, but I don’t recall them being in such numbers as to cause the misery that only swarming blackflies can cause. My father would talk about how bad they were when he was working (on his “days off” from being the United Church minister in Queensborough) up at the Sedgwicks’ ancestral farm in Haliburton County; but Halburton is a fair bit further north, and we all know about the blackflies of Northern Ontario. But blackflies just didn’t seem to be a thing, particularly, in central Hastings County back then.

Am I wrong? Is my memory playing tricks on me? Raymond and I certainly didn’t experience blackflies last spring at the Manse, but perhaps we just weren’t visiting at the right – or I guess actually that would be the wrong – time. People in the area kind of roll their eyes and laugh at me when I express surprise about there being serious blackflies. Perhaps global warming – or something – has changed the situation since the long-ago days of my childhood.

Anyway, of more immediate interest this very chilly May evening: is the Victoria Day long weekend in Queensborough likely to include a big dose of blackflies?

20 thoughts on “Should we expect blackflies?

  1. Sometimes we view our history through rose-coloured glasses. Like the poor, the blackflies will always be with thee. Scientific note: last year it was so hot so early that black flies were few. With these few days of cool weather, the pests will gather strength for the long weekend. Signed,… the eternal optimist

    • Oh boy, that is one hopeful note indeed! So with the cold weather and the blackflies, it’s the old “what doesn’t kill them makes them stronger” phenomenon, I guess. Dear oh dear…

  2. …and don’t forget, as well as driving us crazy, they can be a blessing: all those blueberries waiting to be pollinated… I have a bug shirt left over from Skinner’s Pond days if you want to borrow it.

  3. The best bug shirts, in my opinion are from Lee Valley. They are the only ones that have a darker mesh in front so you can see out better. Stops you from walking into the Queensborough pond.
    There’s a Lee Valley in Ottawa or you can order on-line,

  4. The blackflies in Queensborough started swarming around the first weekend of may this year. Typically, they persist for about weeks, depending upon the weather.

    If, during the summer, you become nostalgic for them, you can encounter them in abundance at the base of the Queensborough dams — they like fast running water.

    Now, once the blackfly swarms are gone in June, you’ll be looking forward to the hordes of mosquitos…

    • The mosquitoes are one thing I’m not really worried about, Graham. They have always been far worse up at our farm in Haliburton than down “south” in Queensborough, so I’m ready to face them down at the Manse. But tell me, as someone who has lived in Queensborough much longer than I have (though you came to it a bit later than I did): am I utterly wrong in thinking blackflies weren’t really a big deal there back when we were kids? Is it possible they’ve got worse with the years (and, probably, climate change)?

      • You mean, you haven’t seen our large ones…big enough to carry off cats, puppies [and small, yappy dogs] and even babies?

        And then between waves of mosquitos [different species of them mature at different times during the course of the summer], one will encounter deer flies and some horse flies

      • Well, okay, as we arrived at the Manse this evening there WERE blackflies – though the air was not thick with them – and I did notice that they seemed to be very large and healthy-looking… As for deer flies and horseflies, though, again I’m not worried. I am certain they’re not as bad here as they are up in Haliburton, and I’m used to that.

      • Did I mention that the Queensboroughian deerflies & horseflies are so named because they carry off actual deer & horses, respectively?

      • The black flies are making a liar out of me…honest — the swarms did actually exist the past two weeks but were are dissipating towards the end of this past week. The typical breeding cycle is about 2 weeks. By next weekend, there should be none swarming

      • “…You should see the ones [deer & horse flies] in Haliburton!…”

        Yeah, I’ve heard about those itty-bitty ones…the size of no-see-ums.

  5. I have learned that during the black fly season my lawn and gardening get very neglected.. My husband last week cut the grass just because he new I was getting really annoyed thinking I would come home from work and have to tackle the chore. I am the lawn cutter in our family.. lol Not because he isn’t capable but because I am precise. But answering your question on were they so bad when we were young?.. I think yes. We just never stood still enough for them to bite and our blood was a lot thicker that we didn’t feel the effect!!! This cold weather froze the little buggers I think. So your safe to come home Katherine 🙂 But make sure you do have a bug coverage of some kind.. it does help 😉

    • Marykay, I think you have put your finger on it precisely when you say “we never stood still enough for them to bite.” So true! Kids are oblivious to things like blackflies (and summer heat, and winter cold). Excellent analysis! And I so hope you are right that the blackflies may have been frozen (maybe in mid-flight!) and will now leave us alone for the rest of the season.

      • Well I was wishing my comment might hold true.. about freezing them, but I was just outside watering my plants.. Not dressed in my Darth Vader gear.. and they are terrible!!! You better take Dave’s advise and get yourself a Lee Valley.. 😉

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