by Nick Baker
The mayfly, sometimes known colloquially as a "Canadian Soldier" after its native land, is an insect perhaps best remembered for making a much appreciated appearance against Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees back in the '07 Divisional Series. Some would argue that these Canadian airborne rangers made the most significant contribution to crucial Indians home victory (Chamberlain couldn't handle 'em, but Fausto Carmona was completely unfazed, even as they crawled in his nose and eyes).
Midges, Canadian Soldiers, mayflies, even "little pterodactyls" as Casey Blake described them after the game — call them what you will, they are an ever-present fact of life on the lake.
The Canadian Soldiers live for one to two years in the mud on the bottom of the lake, feeding on little organisms and the like. Then they crack out a pair of wings and head south, besieging cities, annoying overpaid baseball players, and making a general menace of themselves.
This year, the short-lived insects (which usually descend on the North Coast in late June and early July, the '07 playoffs being a notable exception) appeared in a surging wave, covering the shores of Erie in seemingly record numbers.
These little buggers, which practically disappeared from the 1950s into the 1990s, should be appreciated for more than one postseason Tribe win: They actually show signs of a recovering, if not healthy, Lake Erie. Not only does their presence show literal signs of life, but Canadian Soldiers are a source of food for fish, bats and birds around the lake.
So next time you go to squash one, be sure to thank it in advance for reminding us all that Lake Erie is not the toxic dumping pool it once was. But we can still blame Canada for spawning them. Unless they can somehow help the Indians actually win another game, in which case we'll love them again. — Nick Baker