Posted by: Sand Squiggles -- Richard Modlin's Blog | September 28, 2010

Blackflies: A Boon to the Economy


Recently I became a supporter of the Blackfly Breeders Association (BFBA) by buying a couple of bookmarks the association sells.  It’s the little I can do to support a very simple, but possibly complex, ecological cycle that has great economic ramifications. 

As my friends in Maine and throughout New England say, “…a terrible early summer pest. The blackfly is a minor, but very important contribution to the livelihood of this part of America.”

Basically, this cycle was described to me as follows:  A fisherman feeds on trout—a trout feeds on blackflies.  And blackfies feed on fishermen. 

Though fishermen swat, curse, and yell at the pesky flies with razor sharp mandibles that remove pin-sized chunks of skin dipped in several drops of blood, they continue to ply the pristine streams and ponds, whipping their rods and slinging their lures, in the quest for bass, trout, and salmon.  So strong is this desire to bag these provocative and tantalizing fish that fishermen annually spend hundreds of dollars on equipment, travel, lodging, fishing guides, Cortaid®, food, and alcoholic tinged beverages—the latter, a necessary and important medicinal commodity, drunk in abundance, to recall the catch and assist the action of the unctuous salve.

To get an idea of just how important the blackfly is to a community, I asked a local McDonald’s® cashier what her thoughts were on the subject.  “Aye, she said.  Those fishing guys spend oodles of bucks on Big Macs® and such.”

A similar question asked of the bartender at a not so local tavern, garnered this reply: “Aye, when the trout ‘s a runnin’, those boys really get themselves foo-tified far action.  Then, returnin’ after a good day a wadin’ in the streams, they’re back tellin’ their stories.  The longer they stay, the more they drink, the taller come their tales, and the harder they scratch.”  He nodded his head, poured me another ale, and continued.  “Blackflies’s good for business.”

On the street I asked the town’s noted financier, “If the blackfly is such a boon to the economy, why not promote the mosquito to the same extent?  Trout feed on them too, you know.”

“Well, sir,” he said.  “Folks about these parts hate the mosquita!”

— ∫ ∫ ∫ —

© Richard Modlin 2010


  1. I am doing research for my college thesis, thanks for your helpful points, now I am acting on a sudden impulse.

    – Laura

  2. nice site

  3. very interesting, i use to really dislike these creatures because they would get in my beard and relentlessly bite:(

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