Fungus Gnats Among Us

When I photograph nature, I love finding some creature or behavior that I did not know existed until I photograph it.  Almost as good, though, is seeing something I have read about or heard about and not seen in real life to date.  I saw something like that today.

As I was leaving for work, I saw a slime trail on the sidewalk.  Looking down, I saw what I thought was a large slug–two or three inches long.  We have slugs that large here, but they are not common.

But on closer inspection, I saw it was not a slug at all.  It was a mass of fly larvae all travelling like one super organism.


I had read about this just recently on the bug tracks blog.


These are the larva of the dark-winged fungus gnat, and they are apparently moving to find a place to pupate.


I took a few quick photos then headed off to work.  I still had mud on the knees of my jeans when I left.  That’s the price you pay.

The whole mass moved slowly, just about as fast as a slug would.  You can read more about the group here.


About the roused bear

Nature photographer from central Iowa.
This entry was posted in diptera, insects, invertebrates and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Fungus Gnats Among Us

  1. Alan @ it's not work, it's gardening! says:

    I saw that on Bug Tracks too and was amazed that this was captured in a photo. Now just a few weeks later you’ve seen it too! Really amazing — I’ll have to keep my eyes open I guess!

  2. I never find the good stuff when I am looking for it. Usually it is either when I am looking for something else or when I am not looking.
    The whole thing was amazing to watch. When I try to tell other people about how cool it was they usually can’t get past the fact that they are fly larva though.

  3. theresagreen says:

    What an incredible sight and perfect timing, minutes either side and you’d have missed it!

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