First Bite

There are plenty of pleasant firsts associated with summer: first barbecue, first trip to camp, first cold beer down by the lake. But there is one first I always dread…the first mosquito bite.

Well, mark your calendar because I got my first buggy bloodletting of 2020 just moments ago.

The unseasonably hot weather had a lot of Capreolites out enjoying themselves the last few days. Others had complained of the black flies and mosquitoes but, through some combination of good luck and clean living, I had remained immune. Until now.

“Weren’t you wearing insect repellant?” I hear you asking. “Where was your bug coat?” “Didn’t you use citronella deodorant?”

I have two responses to those ridiculous questions. First, shame on you for blaming the victim. And, second, I’m a northerner—born and bred—and we don’t need no stinking chemical deterrents. Decades of natural selection and strong genes have left me with skin a hippopotamus would envy. Black fly and mosquito bites go unnoticed, only horse and deer flies raise even a twitch on a man as tough as me.

One of my favourite tricks is to just let the pesky insects feast on my face and watch as visitors to our region look on in fascinated disgust. Trails of fresh blood can trickle from my forehead in streams without bothering me in the least. Judging from my guests’ expressions of wide-eyed disbelief this feat of epidermal fortitude is not common in softer southern climes.

Newcomers to the north always comment on the bugs. It is as inevitable as it is cliched. Horrified by our insects ferocity, shocked by our black flies size and number, and drained near dry by our mosquitoes voracious appetites—stories abound of encounters with Northern Ontario bloodsuckers.

One Canadian folk music classic, The Black Fly Song written by Wade Hemsworth, has become an enduring favourite thanks to the little insects near-universal torment. The chorus goes:

And the black flies, the little black flies
Always the black fly no matter where you go
I’ll die with the black fly a-pickin’ my bones

In North Ontar-eye-o-eye-o, In North Ontar-eye-o

Google the song if you want to experience a piece of true Canadiana. Or better yet, go out and live it first hand. There are plenty of bugs to go around.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, it’s time to find my fishing rod and wet a line. With luck I’ll get a second ‘first bite’ of the summer…only this time I’ll be doing the feasting. Nothing can match that first fish fry.

Posted on: May 24, 2020, by :