A Pigdump contributor who once spent some time in the Pigdump storefront office in North Bay Ontario once waxed poetic about the Hexagenia limbata... oh that nutty summer bug!
"As the end of June nears, residents of North Bay on Lake Nipissing anticipate those lazy, hazy days of summer. With less eagerness, do they look forward to the annual onslaught of the notorious shadfly. The substrate of Lake Nipissing is the perfect habitat for the larvae of these harmless winged insects.
Each year as summer temperatures reach their peak, shadfly nymphs emerge from the lake in droves. Attracted to land by the light of the moon, the "shads" natural mating patterns are somewhat altered as the foiled shads dance in circles around city streetlights. After a warm summer night, residents will wake up to vehicles that have become an overnight resting post for these fine-winged insects.
The unmistakable sound of crunching shadflies signifies the beginning of summer as the insects are too numerous to dodge while going about business on city sidewalks. A leisurely bicycle ride on a warm evening during shadfly season becomes an exercise in breathing with one's mouth closed to avoid an unwanted insect meal. Roadways become hazardous as crawling masses of these night-flyers congregate underneath the brightest street lights forming a slippery film between tire and asphalt.
The end of the 2-3 week shadfly emergence is found to be the most obnoxious. Insects which have been swept into heaps by city shopkeepers foul the city air as peak summer temperatures speed up the decomposition process. The lakes appeal is lost to prospective swimmers looking for relief from the heat as they are faced with the stench of shadfly corpses littering the shore.
The saving grace of this winged storm is the lack of biting or sucking mouthparts. Unlike the itch inspiring mosquito and black-fly, the shadfly is only a menace to man because of its emergence in astronomical numbers."
(editor's note: Really. They have no mouths. They hatch, they fly, they cling, they die. Can't get enough of this nutty summer bug, the Hexagenia limbata? See more at www.shadfly.com)