This was supposed to be posted last week, but due to a technical issue, it didn’t happen.  It’s not raining today, but the black flies are definitely out in force!

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As I sit here watching the rain and anticipating black fly season, it prompts me to wonder about how other cultures perceive seasons.  This is what I learned.

Long ago, the Japanese adopted a more segmented recognition of seasons.  They Cherry Blossomsspecify 24 divisions, with a further categorization of 72 subdivisions!   The seasonal divisions start during our calendar month of February with the Beginning of Spring, followed by Rainwater, and then Insects Awakening.  The cycle ends in January with Winter Solstice, Lesser Cold, and then finally Greater Cold. 

Examples of the subdivisions include Fish Emerging from the Ice which occurs in February and Earth is Damp, Air is Humid, at the end of July and the first few days of August.  

I appreciate the details included in the seasonal names. I also noticed that the Japanese did not have a particular black fly season. 

Here in Maine, the black fly is loathed despite its tiny size.  Belonging to the Simuliidae family,  only the females of four of the approximately 40 resident black fly species feed on humans.    The first group is only around during parts of May.   There is a second group that emerges to feast sometime in mid-August and early September.  Although these are pesky, they are a needed food source for other species.  

Their presence also serves as a messenger about the quality of our local ecosystem.   Black flies only breed in clean, running water, unlike mosquitos that prefer stagnant pools.  They don’t tolerate pollution, including organic pollution.    What this means is that those black flies are a sign of a healthy water environment.  

Finally, they tend to be more active from 9-11 am and from 4-7 pm, especially when it is cloudy, humid, and likely to rain.   They aren’t active at night.   So, maybe I’ll take up some night photography this coming month and hang around indoors during most days.  

Sources:

Seasons in Japan — https://www.nippon.com/en/features/h00124/japan’s-72-microseasons.html

Black flies — https://extension.unh.edu/resource/black-flies-fact-sheet

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