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Native Californian, biologist, wildlife conservation consultant, retired Smithsonian scientist, father of two daughters, grandfather of 4 small primates. INTJ. Believes nature is infinitely more interesting than shopping malls. Born 100 years too late.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Mystery of the Night Flies

When I finally figured out that fast flying bats were causing blank video clips, I started to pay more attention to the insects in my videos.

Soon I noticed that swarms of small flies often showed up when an animal passed the camera.

I wondered if the hungry swarms ever give the critters any peace.

On the other hand, maybe the swarms aren't parasitic insects.

Maybe animals just stir resting flies into motion when they walk by.

I compiled some clips to show you what I mean.

And since I couldn't make any sense of it, I wrote to entomologist Bunyipco (an old friend) for an answer.

He didn't have an answer, and responded as expected of a taxonomist -- "Catch some specimens for identification".

"And how do I do that, may I ask?"

"Simple, hang some fly paper where you see the swarms".

If I post any pictures of bears donning fly paper next year, you'll know what happened.


Alyssa Johnson said...

Ok, this may be a silly thought: it is possible that some or all of that could be dust/dander/debris on the animals coat? I can tell SOME are insects, but other times it reminds when of when the sun is coming in at such an angle, and the dog jumps on the couch, and a cloud of dust, dander, fur, and whatever else is seen in the air.

Camera Trap Codger said...

Possibly some of it is dandruff or dust, but dust looked different in the IR light -- check out the kit fox movie where I got several body shakes and then the "dust storms". Just the same, they all need a good bath with Selsun Blue or Head and Shoulders.

Joe said...

Interesting observation. Some look like they were just disturbed by the passing animal and then some appear to be following the animal.

Ben said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ben said...

I'm sorry. The URL I referred to seems to have been deleted when I sent the previous comment. This time I included it in my I.D. as well as here:

Unknown said...

When I check my traps I sometimes get swarmed by louse-flies (Hippoboscidae). They feed on some mammals and birds, but apparently not so much on humans (though that hasn't stopped them from testing me). I never notice them in the air but they do attempt to cover me when I stop to check a camera. I am not sure if that is what this is but they are definitely a parasitic insect that is triggered by a warm blooded creatures getting to close to them.