Nuclear bugs? That's what I was thinking when I
went to Rapid Creek to look for caddisflies on
Wednesday. I only saw a few caddisflies, but
thankfully the hatch is starting for the year,
albeit about two weeks late. I got a few caddis
pictures, but the real prize is this unusual red
bug. In all my years of bug observation, I have
never viewed anything exactly like this red critter.
I had plans to try to get some pictures of dragonfly
or damselfly nymphs, but the puzzle over the red fly
got the best of me and I hurried home to try to
determine its identity. I'm one of those guys who
just can't stand a mystery. I just have to know the
answer, and I want it right now. Too bad about those
nymph pictures, I was on a mission.
I forgot to stop and pick up dog food, which was my
claimed main reason for being away from the lawnmower.
I didn't even stop to buy the hound his usual Wednesday
hot dog treat. My grocery store list was out of my
memory. I had to know what that ugly red fly was
and if it's something rare or common.
When I got home, I ran into the house, pulled the card
out of the camera and fired up the computer. Then I
remembered I left Buford my basset hound in the car;
so I ran back outside while the computer was winding
up and let him out of the car and into the back yard
so he wouldn't interrupt me.
By then, the computer was up and ready, so I ran back
into the house and shoved the flash card into the card
reader and promptly crashed Windows. I'm guessing the
card reader sent a spike up the USB lines and locked
up Mr. Gates' curse to mankind. Start over.
While the computer was winding up for the second time,
I dug out my old field guide of insects and started
earching. Judging by the looks of the bug, I would
guess it is from the family Diptera, which is the
large family of bugs that has family members of the
midge, blackfly and mosquito family and others of
the housefly, deerfly and horsefly varieties. I don't
know; maybe a marshfly?
I pulled the picture up on the screen and started my
textbook comparisons. My field guide is something akin
to a dictionary of insects, but after a few hours
searching, I couldn't find a match. Not one insect
listed in my guide that even slightly resembled my
pictured fly had a red body. Internet searches didn't
do my research any better than my guidebook had done.
My wife knows me pretty well after all these years of
marriage. She knew it was a waste of time to try to get
me off the trail of a new bug, so she took matters into
her own hands. She started calling for bids on the
lawn-mowing job and went to the grocery store for the
stuff I was supposed to bring home with me. I'll have
to make a stop for dog food on my way to work in the
morning. The pet store closed while I was searching
for an answer on my bug project.
It is now more than 24 hours since I started my search,
and I'm not any closer to an answer than I was on the
edge of the stream. Bugs do that to me. If I find one
that I haven't observed before, I'll look for hours to
identify my new find. In this case, I can't find an
answer to my problem, so I'm turning to you for some help.
Can you identify this bug? One of the entomologists out
there must have an answer to my search. If you think you
know the answer, tell us all on the bulletin board. Don't
worry, this isn't a test; and I don't have a clue about
the identity of this red critter. However, I'm very
interested in any information you might have. Is it
the result of toxic waste, nuclear experimentation gone
awry, or just a common bug I haven't observed before now?
I'll be looking for your answers.