I used attract women like flies, but then, who needs women like flies?
|Black headed gulls midge-fishing at Paxton Pits.|
The big swarms of midges that gather near the lakes are almost all non-biters. The larvae live in the mud at the bottom of the lake but they swim upwards to the surface to hatch, which is when the gulls and terns pick them off the water. On a spring evening the Heronry Lakes form the stage for a twilight ballet performed by hundreds of white birds turning, dipping and rising, as if to a flowing melody that we can’t hear.
|Mating flight of midges|
As the wind drops the crowds of midges form into columns that can look like plumes of rising smoke. Each column uses a reference point to keep station, like aircraft gathering over a beacon. They may use a branch on a tree, a signpost, telegraph pole or fence post. They may even gather over your hat.
The swarm is composed mostly of females who are dancing to attract a partner. The males have feather-like antennae that detect female hormones from down-wind and they fly in to grab a mate in their big hairy arms. But they are not the only flies to be attracted to female midges.
|St. Mark's fly|
Midges are the plankton of Paxton Pits, the basis of our food chain, so next time you breath in a lungful of them, try and remember that.