Blackflies Love Bananas

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Here we are, barely a week into spring, snow still lies heavily in the forest, why in the world would I be writing about blackflies?

It is because of bananas. Blackflies love bananas. Blackflies especially like to sip the blood of people who eat bananas. And it takes six weeks for all residue of bananas to clear the body. Thus, I highly recommend that you eat no bananas between now and the day the blackflies are expected to return. In case you have forgotten, blackflies come out at 1 pm on Mother’s Day.

Why should blackflies love bananas? Clearly, this fruit is foreign to the northern Ontario landscape. Well, ask yourself, why do you like bananas? Despite the fact that you have never in your life seen a wild banana growing in the forest, you still like to eat them. They are sweet and creamy, and have a wonderful aroma. Blackflies are attracted to wonderful, sweet aromas. If that is what’s emanating from your pores, that is what will bring the blackflies close to you, and not to me.

It’s true! Blackflies are most definitely attracted to people with sweet blood. They, like most of us, love sweets. And their tiny aroma receptors are keyed in to detecting sweetness. This is also why they are attracted to blueberry flowers. We must remember to thank the little critters for helping with pollinating when we pick the berries come July.

The thing that blackflies don’t like is garlic. I know this to be true, not just from the reading I’ve done over the past three decades, but from personal experience as well. I eat a lot of garlic. Fresh, raw garlic is crushed into the salad each night. As soon as the garlic that was planted in the garden last fall appears after snowmelt, I pick the greens and put them into the salad too. Then, just about the time the blackflies are emerging from hibernation, so do the wild leeks mature in the forest. I eat as many wild leeks as I can in the month of May.

I am amazed when going on field trips in late May. The blackflies near their peak, and most of the biting flies are swarming around the sweetest folks in the crowd. They are not swarming around me.

Blackflies are fascinating to study. I love to write about them, and how to survive blackfly season with most of your blood intact. I’ll go into further detail once they appear in May, but for now, it is time to boycott bananas.

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