The Mono Lake basin has become a symbol for the conservation community and an example of what can go wrong when large metropolitan areas act like bullies and stop at nothing in their greed for resources to feed their growth. Over the years, it's become a draw to photographers because of its incredible views, unique geology and delicate ecosystems. Images usually focus on the iconic tufa formations (right) or expansive vistas (below).
The Mono Lake Committee's website about the flies describes their "mind blowing" growth process: "When the adult fly is ready to emerge from the pupa case its head comes apart! The head separates and a small sac inflates and pops the top off the pupa case. The sac then collapses, the fly's head reassembles itself, and the fly emerges from the case to float to the surface where it then begins its adult life cycle."
And maybe what's best about these little guys is that they're great to eat. Okay, no, I don't know that from first hand experience. But the gull that I shot while hiking along the south shore of Mono certainly seemed to be enjoying himself as he walked amongst the black cloud, feasting away.
Once upon a time, the mono basin was inhabited by a Paiute tribe that, in their language, were called the "Kutzadika'a"...which roughly translates to "Fly Eaters". During the summer months when the tribe was hunting and gathering around the shores of Mono Lake, they would gather the fly pupae, which are rich in both fat and protein, dry them, and cook them in stews. Yum!
|So much food, so little time!|