Nothing ruins an ideal Maine summer time day sooner than clouds of biting bugs. Anybody who has spent any time right here from Might to October is aware of this and awaits their arrival with equal dread and stoic resignation.
From Kittery to Fort Kent, black flies, mosquitos, midges, deer flies and houseflies are the fixed and unwelcome company at any outside exercise.
And whereas somebody each summer time will declare it’s the worst bug season but, there’s scientific proof to again up the declare this yr as consultants level to components equivalent to clear water laws and local weather change.
“We used to have a ‘season’ for black flies,” mentioned Jim Dill, pest administration specialist at College of Maine Cooperative Extension. “Into the [1980s] it was from the top of Might into the primary couple weeks of June after which they might die off.”
Again then there have been two species of black flies present in Maine. Since then, that quantity has grown to greater than 40, although not all feast on human blood.
“These two species did nicely in Maine due to how badly our waters had been polluted,” Dill mentioned. “As a result of [Senator] Ed Muskie stepped up and helped the Clear Water Act come into fruition, we began getting cleaner and cleaner water so extra species of black flies might survive and reproduce right here.”
Black flies want clear, recent operating water to breed. Muskie’s landmark 1972 laws made dumping pollution into rivers unlawful, set wastewater requirements and funded sewage remedy vegetation throughout the nation.
It’s uncertain the Maine senator envisioned the legislation would additionally profit the very bugs that drove his constituents nuts within the Maine woods.
It additionally eradicated the weeks-long black fly season.
“As quickly because the climate will get good till the primary frost you could have black flies,” Dill mentioned. “You’ve gotten totally different species energetic at totally different instances, however they’re on the market.”
At their worst, black flies swarm in clouds round warm-blooded mammals with the feminine of the species out seeking to dine on that blood. The males feed on flower nectar. They’re small, black or grey with brief legs and really brief antennae.
“They’re horrible in Wallagrass,” Kate Novak mentioned. “The again of my neck is sort of a mountain vary of black fly bites combined in with mosquito bites.”
Maine is now considerably infamous for its black fly inhabitants. Over time totally different cities across the state have held festivals, dances and different occasions to pay a tongue-and-cheek homage to the nuisance pest.
Not each biting insect in Maine likes clear water, although, in accordance with Dill. Mosquitos and the bigger deer or moose flies breed in stagnant swimming pools or soggy areas.
“It solely takes a few tablespoons [of water] for mosquitoes to breed,” Dill mentioned. “This yr we have now gotten loads of rain so I inform individuals to verify they clear out backyard buckets, their gutters and empty something that has standing water in it.”
Even then, they may discover a method. Maine has a mosquito known as the “tree gap mosquito” that lays its eggs in water-filled holes or despair in bushes.
“Now we have 40-plus mosquito species within the state,” Dill mentioned. “And they’ll journey a mile or extra from the place they hatch in quest of a blood meal.”
With the quantity of rain the state has already acquired, Dill mentioned it’s shaping as much as be a very good yr for mosquito populations when it comes to sheer numbers and breeding alternatives.
“We’re going to have all of them summer time lengthy,” he mentioned.
All that rain can also be excellent news for the 50 or so species of deer flies in Maine who want soggy, moist areas to breed.
Additionally known as moose flies, these biting bugs are recognizable by their distinctive giant eyes with gold or inexperienced patterns and the darkish bands throughout their deltoid-shaped wings. Their chew is commonly fairly painful and they’ll circle endlessly round an individual’s head ready to strike.
“I’ve lived right here greater than 25 years and that is the worst I’ve ever seen the deer flies,” mentioned Heather Russell of Waldoboro. “I attempt to go for a stroll and so they find yourself getting tangled in my hair.”
Russell mentioned she’s taken to bringing a shirt along with her to wave round to scatter the pests.
Circumstances have additionally been proper this yr in sure elements of the state for fully totally different sorts of bugs to overlap.
Masking up and utilizing pure or chemical bug repellent are one of the best ways to cope with Maine’s biting bugs, in accordance with Dill.
“When doing outside work I’ve to cowl myself from head to toe to keep away from black flies, mosquitos, ticks and deer flies,” mentioned Teresa Montague in Clifton. “There are occasions of day when the bugs aren’t as aggressive however in fact heat, moist climate brings them out all day.”