Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Weird, Obnoxious Swarming Things


Yesterday's rains were liquid gold to the farmers, added several inches to our depleted water table, and brought that special God-given green to our lawns and plants. It also caused various birds and creatures to seek shelter during the all-day downpour. Unfortunately, some of us at Bay Hill attracted millions and millions and millions of what I've been calling those Weird, Obnoxious Swarming Things to our porches and doorways, and plastered upon our houses. They reminded me of Maylies the way they hummed overhead and lifted up in frenzied angst when you walked by them. See the photo above? They were that thick all over my porch and house. Ick.

They don't bite, they don't eat foliage or fruits, but they do emit a black, tarry goo that's close to impossible to remove. What ARE these things? Where did they COME from?!

Ah, I know. I'll ask Damien Simbeck, our TVA Wildlife Biologist and Friend of Bay Hill.

A section of the ceiling of our front porch. It was like this everywhere.

A close up of a male Weird, Obnoxious Swarming Thing, and some of the tarry, black goo. Males have a slighter body with antennae. Females are heavier, darker, with no antennae. I know this because of their lustful advances that occurred on the window of my front door. Ahem.
Damien answered my e-mail quickly, and Carroll and I wanted you all to know what these creatures are.
In Damien's own words: "Appears to be one of the many Chironomids (midges) found in this area. This group is VERY diverse, and VERY common. The larvae are very tolerant of variable water quality conditions, so they are typically found everywhere. Although they do have population fluctuations, they are usually common every summer around the area (any where near water, that is). Like you said, they do not bite (or even feed as adults). They merely live a day or two, reproduce, then die. The entire population will probably emerge, reproduce and die within a few weeks, then they will be gone until next year (of course, other species have the same cycle, and they may emerge at different times of the year).

I have not seen a decrease in mayfly populations along the area reservoirs. May be a local decline (movement of populations, changes in reservoir substrate, etc.) that you are noticing at Bay Hill. The same cause(s) may explain the recent increase in midge populations."
Note: I had asked him about the decrease in Mayfly populations, but apparently that's just happening here.
So now we all know that these Weird, Obnoxious Swarming Things are - Midges.

1 comment:

Daniel Spurgeon said...

Hmm, another name for these things- "fish food". :) They will also help the soil when they fall and die.