July 1888 – Canada soldiers – What they are and where they come from
This is how a "bugologist" explained the annual Mayfly invasion. Most of it surprisingly accurate.
With the millions of Canada soldiers, or more properly, June flies, that visit us every summer, often times comes the question, “What is their origin and where do they come from?”
The question answered properly is, from the water. This is not always believed, but it is so, however, and a Cleveland bugologist having made the matter a study, writes the following to the Press: “Those bugs or flies have no more to do with Canada than you have. I have been studying them up. They are what scientists call ‘ephemera,’ and a jolly bug they are. Down in the waters of the lake are millions of little worm like creatures invisible almost to the naked eye. Why, man, your stomach may be full of these embryo ‘soldiers’ at this moment, taken in in your drinking water. Well, when these worms become ripe, they wiggle to the surface of the water. Their hides become hard. Pretty soon myriads of little shell-like forms are dancing on the waves. A warm night opens the shells. A light wind lifts up your soldier and ashore he comes by the billion.
His average life is 24 hours. By day he sleeps behind your window blind, beneath a leaf, or under the lapel of your coat. He’d sleep in your ear if you’d let him. At night he is out on a lark. Up and away he sails in the air. In the midst of his aerial dance he finds his partner, and I have an idea that he finds a great deal to eat. I’ll tell you why. He is a ‘soldier.’ You see, when I tear his abdominal part away from his thorax, that there is considerable substance to him. Here is a little pouch that looks like a bladder. Here is a set of entrails that in their perfection of construction would not do discredit to an alderman. But I want you to notice the eyes. They take up about all his head. Moreover they are actually one lens upon another and capable of magnifying many hundred diameters. What’s the reason for so much eye in the beast? Why, he lives on the finest particles in the atmosphere. You will always find these flies thickest over trees and other objects that retain moisture during the day or those that give moisture off most copiously during the night. It is not strange that electric and other lights attract such eyes, is it? Now, if I am right about the way these soldiers feed on the miasma and unhealthful atmospheric moisture of the heated weather, are they not a positive blessing to humanity?”