In Your Lakewood Backyard

Black flies, scientific name tabanids, are quite common in Lakewood. They appear most frequently from April through June, but they can survive into the late summer months. This large, diverse group of blood feeding flies is noticed most during the spring and early summer months because this is when they breed and the females suck human and animal blood to feed their eggs.

When the eggs are ready, the female deposits them in a body of water. After the eggs mature for four or five days, they hatch into white aquatic larvae. The longevity of the egg stage is dependent on water temperature. If the eggs are laid early in the season they will become adults that season. However, if the water temperature does not reach 70Âș Fahrenheit, the eggs will not hatch until the following spring.

Larvae molt six times before encasing themselves in a cocoon-like structure and becoming pupae. The pupae spend a couple of days in this immobile form before emerging as adults. From here the cycle repeats itself. The total lifespan of a black fly averages four to six weeks.

There is an old wives tale which states that flies indicate when it will rain by increased biting. Two Lakewood Observer contributors, Ken Warren and Dan Slife, concur. While no real scientific study or evidence exists to support this observation, Judith Hough-Goldstein, Professor of Entomology at University of Delaware conjectures that the insects are "influenced by weather and will respond to changes in barometric pressure, wind, cloud cover and temperature." The increased humidity and heat encourage females to lay their eggs. As the water temperature has to be seventy degrees for the eggs to develop, this change in temperature might be enough to start the breeding cycle.
Read More on Flora and Fauna
Volume 1, Issue 5, Posted 11.10 AM / 23rd August 2005.