Cherries White – Black Flies Bite

I am up in Northern Ontario visiting my parents, helping out with garden bed preparation. One of the things I like best about living in Guelph is the distinct lack of black flies. I often schedule my visits up North to coincide with NOT black fly season as their particular brand of bites drive me crazy!

However, this year was a different story and I was “privileged” enough to come just as the black flies were making their first drowsy circles around our heads.

There is an old folk saying of “cherries white, black flies bite” meaning when the cherry blossoms come out the black flies will start biting. This year, at least, it seemed to hold true.

On Monday evening when I arrived, the black flies were out but still just buzzing, not biting yet. Tuesday morning as I started my work in the garden they were swarming my head, at least 50 at a time, but made no attempts to bite my hands which were unprotected (the rest of me, of course, was protected with the Original Bug Shirt).

After a delicious lunch of locally, hydroponically grown salad, my dad called us all over to look out the window, where, lo and behold, the cherry tree closest to the house was in full blossom. That afternoon, out in the garden again (this time fully protected with gloves), the black flies were devouring our lovely dog Badger, as he tromped around the garden, keeping me company while I dug compost and manure into the beds to prepare them for the coming growing season.

Despite having great protection, when I see black flies swarming around me, I can feel phantom flies crawling on my hairline. It makes me eagerly await the wild irises that, again according to folk-lore, signal the end of the black fly season: “flags of blue, black flies through”

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