Friday, June 29, 2007

Shads Hanging Around

Here’s a photo of some shads hugging the back of École publique Héritage on Lakeshore Drive. And this is a light grouping of shads!!

Well, the shadflies are back in the Bay. It’s one of those things that on the surface appears to be a “bad” thing. Millions upon millions of flying insects covering cars, buildings and people, isn’t a fun thing!! But it’s not all bad.

Some mornings you may have to use a snow brush to get them off your car windows! The good thing is that the shads don’t bite, in fact they don’t have any functional mouth parts.

Most of the time, the shads live in the bottom of Lake Nipissing in naiad form (sometimes up to 3 years). All growth occurs in the nymph stage. When the shads leave the naiad stage their sole purpose is procreation and then death. The shads usually emerge during the end of June when the lake’s temperature rises. During flight, the female deposits her fertilized eggs as she drags her abdomen across the surface of the water.

But you’re saying why is this such a good thing. Well, the shadflies are a pollution–sensitive animal. This means that the water should be good quality, perhaps even good enough to drink without distilling or boiling. It also means the oxygen levels in the lake need to be high for a large population of shads. They are an important food source for fish, birds, bats and other insects. It has been noted, that in years when there has not been a large infestation of shads, the lake’s walleye population suffers the following year.

Oh another thing, the shads do smell when they die (it’s like a bad fish smell) and they litter the ground so you have to be careful when crunching them as you walk since they are so numerous it is actually like walking on ice at times. There have been instances where motor vehicles accidents have occurred since cars have not been able to stop or negotiate corners because it is so slick.

To answer Fénix from Boston, the Shads are a type of Mayfly but unlike the British insect these guys arrive June/July.

Before I have scared everyone off about visiting the Bay, the Shads are normally not active during the day (that's why they are hugging the building). So as long as you don't disturb them they won't be flying. But watch out at night, especially in areas that are lit (most of the business along Lakeshore Drive - including the mall and the A&P grocery store, turn off their external lights and parking lot lights during this time so as to not attract the Shads).
It's a small price to pay to have super fishing on your doorstep and wonderful clean clear lakes!!


Fénix (Bostonscapes DP) said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Fénix (Bostonscapes DP) said...

Never seen anything like this before. They are beneficial, yes, but what a pain!

Re: May flies, I meant to say black flies (we get them here in May), the itsy bitsy things that do have a mouth and know how to use it. Their bite is painful and can leave bad scars. Hideous things.

luke156 said...

Interesting and also very awesome too, I have never heard of these things yet they are so numerous. great shot!

pusa said...

they look cute but aren't they icky on the skin if it land on your arms? like the feeling of a cockroach?

Steve Buser said...

I was engrossed in your story and your pix. Thanks for "the rest of the story."

Anonymous said...

They are new to me. As I had said I don't think I ever saw them before or even knew what they are.

Abraham Lincoln
Tiger Swallowtail

jules said...

Congratulations! They are a small price to pay for a healthy water environment and good fishing. I've come across these (we call them fishflies) while doing a job (Land Surveying) close the Lake St. Clair (Michigan), they were everywhere!

magiceye said...

incredible! nature never ceases to fascinate..

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Maverick said...

is incredible to see so many shads in a only place, there's a urban legend that said "in where people has use Generic Viagra the shads fly free".