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The Dobson Fly...King of the Bugs?
A Fly you don't mess with!
The Larvae - Hellgrammites - Make top fish bait.
Sometimes referred to as the "King Bug," although it is a fly and not a true bug at all, is the Dobson Fly, a native of North and South America.
It belongs to the order of Megaloptera, which contain some 300 separate species, and family of Corydalidae, which consist of several further specific member species.
The larvae of this singular insect lives in rivers for several years where it is generally known as a Hellgrammite. Fishermen around the North-Eastern salmon and trout streams of the USA know the large larvae well as it makes excellent bait.
Rather like the killing of a lion to the Masai is a proof of manhood and bravery, the seeking of hellgrammites by small boys in Montana, say, is also a test of courage. This is because the predatory larvae - and the adult female fly (but not the male) possess short, powerful mandibles: pincers that can quite easily draw blood from an incautious finger. This being the idea amongst the youngsters who grope around under rocks in the rivers until a hellgrammite finds them and bites, hard! They then keep a stiff upper lip while grabbing the insect with the other hand before it can let go.
A much easier way, and preferred by adults whose childhood bravery is a few years behind them, is to rig a net across the river while, upstream, they overturn the rocks and loosen the hellgrammites which float down in the swift current into the nets.
A hellgrammite on a fisherman's hook will stay alive several hours while it is employed to attract a nice juicy salmon.
The adult dobsonfly only lives for 7 days during which time it mates and does not feed, except perhaps sucks a little juice from berries. The males can be quite scary at this time, reaching lengths of five inches with their one-inch pincers open! But they have no power to bite as does the female with her shorter mandibles able to exert more closing force.
After depositing her eggs in clusters on overhanging vegetation by the river, the adults die and the cycle is repeated. It is extraordinary how much primitive life spends most of its time in a moribund state as a pupae or larvae and so little as an adult enjoying the fresh air and sunshine. Of course, Buddhists may make a case saying mankind is only in a larvaic stage and may come back in a higher state of being.
This is just a short article as this fellow is not of great interest if you don’t fish.