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Insect Indicators of Water

Photo by Ralph Haering

Photo by Ralph Haering

10/15/14
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Insect Indicators of Water

In general, more life means water and insect numbers can be closely related to water and food sources. In many arid areas, you can tell how close you are to a water source by the number of flies present. Dragonflies, bees, and mosquitoes are also water-loving species that can signal the source is near.

  • Flies. Dense clouds of flies swarming in a generally focused area, particularly in the desert, may indicate damp soil or soil where standing water was present only a short time previously. It is almost always worth digging a shallow hole in a low spot near the flies to investigate the possibility of a water source.
  • Bees. Bees presence may be a sign of water. Rarely will a hive of wild bees be more than 3 or 4 miles from fresh surface water. A bee can generally fly 1 mile in 12 minutes. The water source may be small, hidden, or difficult to reach. Use other indications to confirm and locate the water source.
  • Ants. Most ants need water, so if you see a steady column of small black ants climbing a tree trunk and disappearing into a hole, it is highly probable that you fill find a hidden reservoir of drinkable water. This can be proved by dipping a long straw or thin stick down the hole into which the ants are going. If wet, then water is there. To get the water, do not chop into the tree. If the hole is very small enlarge it with your knife-point at the top. Make a mop by tying grass or a rag to a stick. Dip the mop into the water and squeeze into a container. Another method is to take a long hollow straw and suck the water you need from the reservoir. These natural tree reservoirs are very common in dry areas, and are often kept full by the dew which condensing on the upper branches of the tree, trickles down into the reservoir inside the tree. Water reservoirs are very common in the She-Oaks (casuarinas) and many species of Wattle.
  • Mason Flies. These large, hornet-like creatures are a certain indicator of water. If you see a mason fly’s building in an area you can be sure that you are within a few hundred yards of a soak of wet earth. Search around carefully and you will see the mason fly hover and then suddenly drop to the ground. If you examine the place where it landed, you will find the soil is moist and that she is busy rolling a pellet of mud for building. By digging in this area, a few inches or at most a couple of feet, you may find drinkable water.

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