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Thread: Black Flies

  1. #1
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    Default Black Flies

    What is the black fly outlook for 2012? Does below-normal snow correlate to fewer black flies?

  2. #2

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    Snow fall has nothing to do with the flies. Black flies spawn in shallow running water (of which there is always an ample supply in VT/NH/ME). The first big hatch is when the weather turns from cool and rainy to warm and sunny, typically some time in June. An early warm and dry spring would make them show up earlier - possibly in early to mid May - but we wouldn't know if that will happen until it happens. We'll just have to wait and see what kind of spring we get this year. The warm winter so far may foreshadow an early and warm spring here, but who can tell for sure? Though I belive the ground hog said it will be.
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  3. #3

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    As long as I've lived in NH (in either Concord area or up to southern end of White Mts), I see the first black fly around the last week of April. They wait a few days to start biting - typically right after May 1. I think you'd have another week or so after that up in Maine. The first NASTY heat spell - over 93 or so - kills most of them. That is rarely before Father's Day. At elevation, it also gets shifted a bit later; i.e. we always hike the Whites the weekend before Memorial Day, and usually have to deal with them for part of the hike. But there are fewer higher up because little running water, and breezy days keep them away, pretty much like mosquitos.
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  4. #4
    2000 miler Doc's Avatar
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    In Maine they belong to a union. They show up the first of June but quit and go home on the last day in June. Any that remain after June 30th are non-union and can be ignored.

  5. #5

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    It probably would if there was a prolonged cold snap, but it's been warmer than most years so far. Only a couple of nights below zero and no days below 10 above so far. Not sure if more spring runoff due to high snow pack matters. Last year was a record snow pack, but a pretty mild year for black flies (in the north anyway).

    I have yet to figure out the pattern between bugs and winter temps/snow. Think it depends more on the spring weather than the winter.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Doc View Post
    In Maine they belong to a union. They show up the first of June but quit and go home on the last day in June. Any that remain after June 30th are non-union and can be ignored.
    This is correct unless they are scabs and then they bite like bulldogs.

  7. #7
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    At least here in central New Hampshire, the old timers say that the black fly season is from Mother's Day to Father's day. Over the last 30 years, that seems to be pretty accurate. Probabaly push that back a week or two for the Hundred Mile Wilderness. As mentioned earlier, I haven't really seen a correlation with winter temps and snow fall and how numerous and/or viscious they are. For whatever reaseon, they just haven't seemed all that bad the last couple of years.

  8. #8
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    In my 72 years of living in Black Fly country, ME & NH I have made this observation, to wit: Once the daytime temperature gets to be over 70 degrees F, and remains there, the Black Flies no longer are present in abundance. This usually occurs as has been stated as around Fathers' Day. They however do persist at or near the summits of the higher mountains where the temps remain somewhat lower. It is quite common to have the wee beasties meet you up there whilst peak bagging in the summer, even when they are virtually non-existant down below. Since they live in larvae form in stream beds, the temperature of the water may be a link here, but would not explain why they persist at higher elevations since there tend to be not too many streams at 4000 feet and above in NH and Maine. As a Fly Fisherman who as must needs, remain nearly stationary when I practice my hobby, I tend to meet a lot more Black Flies than a hiker who keeps moving down the trail.

    Another theory of mine is that the Black Fly (Simuliidae family) is powered by a miniture solar cell in its bulbous head. This is why they are not found at night, and seem to more abundant in bright sunlight than in the morning's dim light, and never at night.


    One sure way to avoid them is to hike only at night, and lie low during daylight hours.


    If you think they are bad here, go hiking in Labrador in the spring and early summer. Yikes!
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  9. #9
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hillwalker View Post
    In my 72 years of living in Black Fly country, ME & NH I have made this observation, to wit: Once the daytime temperature gets to be over 70 degrees F, and remains there, the Black Flies no longer are present in abundance. This usually occurs as has been stated as around Fathers' Day. They however do persist at or near the summits of the higher mountains where the temps remain somewhat lower. It is quite common to have the wee beasties meet you up there whilst peak bagging in the summer, even when they are virtually non-existant down below. Since they live in larvae form in stream beds, the temperature of the water may be a link here, but would not explain why they persist at higher elevations since there tend to be not too many streams at 4000 feet and above in NH and Maine. As a Fly Fisherman who as must needs, remain nearly stationary when I practice my hobby, I tend to meet a lot more Black Flies than a hiker who keeps moving down the trail.

    Another theory of mine is that the Black Fly (Simuliidae family) is powered by a miniture solar cell in its bulbous head. This is why they are not found at night, and seem to more abundant in bright sunlight than in the morning's dim light, and never at night.


    One sure way to avoid them is to hike only at night, and lie low during daylight hours.


    If you think they are bad here, go hiking in Labrador in the spring and early summer. Yikes!
    I have fished in Labrador in September after a hard frost and they were still worse than anything I've seen in Maine.

  11. #11

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    They do go to sleep at night. Thankfully. I agree that Mother's Day to Father's Day is a good rule of thumb.

  12. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tenderheart View Post
    They do go to sleep at night. Thankfully. I agree that Mother's Day to Father's Day is a good rule of thumb.
    The mosquitoes work the night shift.

    Good info on the flies. One Memorial Day on the flanks of Mt. Adams was one of my most memorable blackfly days. I took an afternoon break at the Perch and ended up setting up my tent to avoid them. I decided to stay in the tent and cook dinner after sunset.
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  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tinker View Post
    The mosquitoes work the night shift.

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    Belong to a different union.

  14. #14

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    Mass. to Maine the mosquitoes destroyed me in July one year.

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  15. #15
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    I don't see a relationship between snow and blackflys around here (Massachusetts) They are a huge PITA all of May and early June.

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