Blind Mosquitoes

MayflyA beautiful, warm summer evening in August on Lake George, the final destination on our trip from Amelia Island up the St. Johns River. It is approaching dusk and we move Cat Inn Around about 300-feet off shore of the cove near Salt Run, the entrance to Salt Springs. Hopefully getting away from land will offer a little breeze and get us away from the mosquitoes. As the sun sets, we start to settle-in for evening snacks, wine and then dinner. We notice that the mosquitoes are teeming. We head inside the cabin, turn off all the lights and hope they will leave. But, as we watch out the salon doors, their numbers are more than expected and growing! I decide that we should move further off shore and get away from their sanctuary on land. We climb the stairs to the bridge in a swarm the likes I have never seen. I crank the engines, pull the anchor and ask Brandon to use the flashlight to try to pick a path through the crab-traps. We are cruising directly away from the shore at a slow pace in the pitch black night. The swarm we see through the beam of the flashlight is truly something out of a horror movie. The flashlight’s glare looks like it is shining on a heavy rain. In the glow, the cat’s entire hull looks covered with bugs! Now we are over a half-mile from shore and there is no let-up in the swarm. I set the anchor before getting the big cat too near to the channel that runs through the center of Lake George. “Let’s turn-off all the lights I think it is just attracting them!” Brandon asks: “Have you been bitten yet?” I realize that I was too panicked about the unearthly swarm to stop to grasp: “No, I don’t have a single byte. Maybe they are blind mosquitoes?” We rush downstairs and look at the horrified faces of the rest of our guests. We seal the doors & windows and start killing the few that have made it inside. Using the lights sparingly, we look at the windows and aft-deck that have literately turned black from the swarm. We have dinner, several drinks and conversations about the ‘end of the world’ and the ‘twilight zone.’  It is a eerie night. We finally head to bed, hoping that in the morning we can leave the safety of the cabin.

Morning comes and the aft-deck is still black with mosquitoes. I venture out to take a few photos. I notice that they have secreted some sort of ‘green ooze’ on everything! We start to clean-up and notice that many of the mosquitoes are dead. The ones that are alive are lethargic and none of them are biting.

Weeks later, research tells us the mosquitoes are really Mayflies also knows as in the South as ‘Blind Mosquitoes.’ We just happened to be there the single night they emerged from water and mated! The green ooze is millions of eggs laid on everything (weeks later we are still cleaning-up green ooze.)

Technical: Mayfly any insect of the order Ephemeroptera, so named because the adults live for a short time, often only a single day, during which they molt twice, mate, and lay their eggs in freshwater. The adults are medium to large, shiny, slender insects with two pairs of fragile, transparent, many-veined wings, and two or three long threadlike tails. The long forelegs of the male are used to clasp the female during the mating flight. Mayflies, also called June bugs, shad flies, and salmon flies, emerge by the thousands from streams, ponds, and lakes at twilight in the early spring; the males form large mating swarms and when a female flies into the swarm she is seized by a male and the two depart to mate. Mayflies lack fully developed mouthparts and do not feed. The insect undergoes incomplete metamorphosis , the egg hatching directly into an aquatic naiad, or nymph, with chewing mouthparts, which passes through some 20 nymphal stages over a period of two years or more, feeding on algae and diatoms and breathing oxygen taken directly from water by gills. It emerges from the water to transform into a subadult phase known as the subimago, unique among insects, in which it has wings and can fly but has immature legs, tail, and reproductive system. Adult mayflies are an important food source for many animals; several fishing flies are modeled after them. Mayflies are classified in the phylum Arthropoda , class Insecta, order Ephemeroptera.

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