Okay, now I’m worried about the blackflies.

Part of the lineup of clothing and accessories from Lee Valley to protect a person from blackflies. Let me put it this way: if I find myself needing something like that, it's time for a drive into town for some indoor shopping!

Part of the lineup of clothing and accessories from Lee Valley (leevalley.com) to protect a person from blackflies. Let me put it this way: if I find myself needing something like that, it’s time for a drive into town for some indoor shopping! (And not for bug clothes either. Books, maybe. Or, I don’t know … hassocks!)

Worried about the blackflies? Well, not really worried worried. I mean, they aren’t exactly life-threatening. But the comments in response to my post last night, wherein I inquired whether Raymond and I should expect blackflies in bothersome quantities when we’re at the Manse this long weekend, suggest I was hallucinating when I said that I don’t remember blackflies being any kind of a springtime problem in the years when I was growing up in Queensborough.

Our friend Dave even emailed me a link to the bug clothing sold at Lee Valley. Now that’s enough to make a person worry!

You see, despite my best efforts not to be a “cidiot” (or is it “citiot”?) – a classic term that I learned from one of our North of [Highway] 7 friends – I have lived in cities and towns of some size for quite a few years. I have got used to living bug-free, or pretty close to it, in spring and summer.

I am beginning to think I have grown soft when it comes to bugs.

Mind you, I am not worried about the summertime mosquitoes. As I explained to my friend Graham in response to his comment mentioning them, the mosquitoes in Queensborough can’t possibly compare with the ones up in Haliburton County, where my family has a farm. And I can still handle those mosquitoes even after my years of city living, though it involves tactics like not spending much time outdoors in the evenings, keeping the lights off in the house as much as possible, staying clear of the woods, and for the love of God keeping a fan on in one’s bedroom at night. (It is astounding how much wreckage one lone mosquito in one’s bedroom can do to a night’s sleep. The fan drowns out the noise and blows them away.)

But blackflies in any quantity are something I’ve lost skill to deal with or tolerance for, if indeed I ever had that skill and tolerance. One handy thing is that blackflies (unlike mosquitoes) are a strictly outdoor phenomenon, so maybe that just means less yard work and so on until the blackfly season passes.

Or maybe we will be pleasantly surprised to find that the blackflies steer clear of the Manse property!

Yeah, right.

14 thoughts on “Okay, now I’m worried about the blackflies.

  1. As usual, your memory serves you correctly, I believe. One of the few things I can confirm from your bottomless well of precise memories, is that the blackflies were nothing to fuss about in Queensborough. After a couple of days picking stones in Haliburton County on any given Victoria Day long weekend – now those were some blackflies. (Not that we would have caught you picking stones… you hear me Mel? Bruce?) Anyhewdidily, I can also attest to the fact we were at the manse last year long weekend in May and… nothin’.
    Same story for mosquitoes.
    Queensborough is far too urban for those pests.
    One thing that sticks with me from way back when that may be related to this – the bats. There were lots of them swooping around at nightfall. Don’t they eat their own body weight in bugs every night or something crazy? Graham? Surely you are on top of this…
    Katherine, if I catch you in some silly bug hat I will not be impressed. We have a long and proud tradition of suffering through the bugs.

    • John, your validation of my “Blackflies? What blackflies?” memory is much appreciated. As it happens I spoke to Mum tonight and asked her about it, and she too said there were no blackflies of any account when we lived in Queensborough. Can all three of us be wrong? I think not. I think the true story must be that in the almost 40 years (!) since the Sedgwicks moved away from Queensborough and the Manse, climate change really has changed things. And perhaps those who have lived there through all those years are so used to the changed circumstances that … well, it’s like when you see yourself growing older in the mirror (in other words, you don’t see yourself growing older, and feel you are aging very well indeed) but when your high-school classmates see you at the reunion they are stunned by how old and fat you have become. (By you I don’t mean you. I mean me.) When you’re right in the midst of it, change is hard to notice. When you come back after 40 years, it hits you right between the eyes.

      But the bats, yes! I think you totally are on to something there. There were always bats swooping around when we (and all the neighbourhood kids) would play in the Manse yard on spring and summer evenings. And now there aren’t. And now there are blackflies. Coincidence? I think not.

      Graham, I’m with John: bring your Queensborough and scientific knowledge and weigh in here!

      • I just caught this little post about Bats.. Where are all the Bats? Well they use to live in our house/store. When I moved into the old general store 16 years ago while my devoted partner at that time was living in Toronto and commuting back and forth on weekends. My daughter and I would interestingly get interrupted in the early morning hours with one gently flying around our bedroom. One evening in particular my daughter came into my room and said, “I don’t care what you say but I am not going back in my room there is a bat flying around in there!” So every light in the house came on as I proceeded to get my faithful glove and badminton racket to help get him outside. I said to my daughter go in your room and turn on the light, which she did. I then poked my head in her room spotted mr bat and smack.. All of a sudden the room went dark so I closed the door. Meanwhile my daughter was still in the room. And not very happy with me. I had hit mr bat and in the mean time mr bat hit the lamp.. that’s when everything went dark. lol I was able to pick him up with my glove and take him outside. On another note we have had a mr bat in our basement for the last 3 years. Jos could never get him and he said he was huge. Just recently while renos in the store he started flying around in the daytime. We were able to get him outside. So now you know where all the bats are… in MY HOUSE! Or around it!!!!

      • That’s probably the best bat story I’ve ever heard, Marykay! It’s funny to read it now, but if I’d been you or Sara I would have been terrified and freaked out at the time. Anyway, it’s good to know the Queensborough bats are still with us, and that their location has been pinpointed… (Heeheehee…)

      • Whoah! One bat can eat a thousand mosquitoes an hour? Where do I sign up for a bat house?

        But Graham, are there bats around Queensborough these days? We haven’t seen much evidence of them.

      • “…But Graham, are there bats around Queensborough these days? We haven’t seen much evidence of them….”

        Indeed, one can observe “zillions” of them…at dusk, though. I even find a few roosting in the rafters of the basement in the winter.

      • Well! I have yet to observe them. But I will watch out. (We did, however, find a dead and dessicated bat in one of the bedrooms of the Manse the first time we visited it with the realtor when it was for sale. And we continue to hope that that was an anomaly born of the house having been empty for quite a while. Because if a live bat shows up in my house I will, guaranteed, freak out. No matter how many mosquitoes it may have eaten.)

      • They are around.. on a nice summer evening while we sit on our back deck just as it’s getting dark they will swoop all around the yard and come very close to us while we are still sitting there. I have never been afraid of bats coming from a place that was large and very old. My father always said yes Graham you are right .. Bats are our friends. And they will never fly into you that is an old wives tale.

      • Remember when we were kids there was the old story about how they’d get caught in your hair? Not true. But it’s interesting that the bats still swoop around your place of a summer evening, because that’s what they used to do at the Manse (when I was a kid, long ago) and now I just don’t think they do any more. I hope they will come back and eat lots of our mosquitoes and blackflies!

  2. Black Flies were in full force last weekend. And yes the city folks all had on our gear. You could barely see through the netting for the black fly swarms on Saturday with little wind. With the strong wind on Sunday you did not need the gear. With jeans, garden gloves, boots, jacket and bug hat, I still managed to get bit on the legs and neck which days later still itch. Forgo the fashion – you get working at the Manse and you will be glad you have the gear and the name calling will be more about the bugs instead of the bites.

    • By the sounds of things (see other comments) it’s not just the city folks who had their gear on, Jo-Ann. Yikes – now I am getting seriously concerned about the blackflies! And even if you’re not allergic (like Raymond is), blackfly bites are so annoying – itchy and bleeding and swelly. How do those tiny insects create so much mayhem?

  3. Too bad we don’t have the Black-fly Shuffle this year. I think we should hold it for a couple of weeks during black fly season. I can just picture everyone in Queensborough, “doin’ the Shuffle”! That way maybe you could out maneuver the little pests.

    • I too am very sorry there’s no Black-fly Shuffle this year, Dave! When I first heard about it last spring, I thought it was a funny and charming idea: holding a dance to celebrate the annual insect infestation. (Even though then I didn’t believe the blackflies could possibly be all that bad in Queensborough.) I still think it’s a funny and charming idea! Let’s round us up a band and bring it back to the Queensborough Community Centre next spring!

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