Swarms of small black flies have been filling the air and bugging people in the Shuswap.-image credit: Jim Elliot/Salmon Arm Observer

Masses of midges and aphids are causing a stir

A swarm of little black bugs are buzzing around the B.C. Interior this year

It’s all about sex and feasting!

The swarms of small flies flitting about annoyingly are most likely midges if they’re black and in swarms, or aphids otherwise.

Former provincial entomologist and operator of his own company IPM2Go, Hugh Phillip says fall is when the flies are ensuring future generations.

“There are so many of them at this time of year,” he says, pointing out the swarms are likely comprised of male and female midges, who have just emerged from local streams. “When the mating is over, they head for creeks or ponds, lay their eggs on the surface of the water and once they’ve laid their eggs, they die.”

It’s also the time of year for the winged aphids to mate, following which females lay their eggs on woody ornamentals, Phillip says.

He says a lot of native species are cyclical and this might be a very good year for the harmless but pesky flies.

And the bounty has another upside for some species.

“It’s good food for bats and birds and orb spiders, who build those typical webs between branches, as well as other spiders that are building on hedges and cedars,” Phillip says, noting with wonder only an entomologist would display that he found a perfect funnel spider web in his backyard shed. “There are lots of baby spiders and this will help them make it through the winter.”

For those who who do not share a love of bugs, the first hard frost is likely to usher them out.