Q. Is there a black fly season in Alaska, and when is it? I have heard that when the thaw starts in the spring they are awful. -Mary
A. Good news, Mary! I have lived up here since 1971 and I’ve never seen a black fly. So I got to wondering, where did this vicious rumor start? I both ‘googled’ it and called the Department of Fish and Game (because I didn’t know who else to call!) Talked to a nice man named Nick, who was quite informative.
There are black flies here but they are certainly no problem and not widespread. Mostly you would find them along the rivers or coastal areas of S. E. Alaska and he has lived there and says they are not a bad problem. It really varies a lot from year to year depending on environmental conditions. One day they might be bothersome, and the next day there is not a one to be found. In S. E. Alaska they are called ‘white socks’ which are a sub-species of black flies found in other parts of the U. S. Minnesota is a hotbed of black flies for instance. They have them off and on all summer long.
We are well known for our mosquitoes, of course, but I don’t consider them any reason to put off visiting our state. A friend, Dean Wilson, who lives on the edge of the wilderness, where some years they are bad, says: “Mosquitoes are just a question of mind over matter, anyway. If you don’t mind, they don’t matter!” We would do well to apply that thinking to lots of life’s troubles, eh?
When we used to live out in the Copper River Basin, I remember one other insect. After mosquito season, there seemed to be what we called ‘No-See-Ums’. They were little bitty, hard to see, mean devils, who seemed to bite wrists and ankles mostly, but they didn’t last long.
We have found the good far outweighs the bad here in Alaska. And while we’re on the subject of creepy crawlies, just remember we have no snakes up here! I consider that in itself a good reason to move here! -Bonnie J.