Myvatn - lake of volunteer flies

Myvatn or Lake Muszek, Iceland

Ochotka sounds good, but ...

I thought I was going crazy! Irritation quickly reached its zenith. Ochotka instead they had more and more fun. I had the feeling that the more I defended myself, the more they would fly at me. All resistance was pointless. They were everywhere and in the form of black clouds they flew in from all sides, thickening around me. Is there any salvation for me, any hope? Will they eat me alive in horror?

The waterproof raincoat was buttoned to the end, right up to the neck. Hood pulled tightly over the head, all the strings pulled as tight as possible. Velcro fastening around the sleeves, squeezed so that I could feel the blood barely rushing to my hand. For the first time I regretted that the pandemic mask, apart from the mouth and nose, did not yet cover my eyes ... It was all for nothing. Somehow, the insects got under the mask. They went into the nose and mouth. They even sealed my eyes. I stopped paying attention to the ones that got under the jacket and by the collar ... I was not able to win this war.

Ochotka looks like that
source: Wikimedia Commons

I have lost. I gave up. Just after a dozen or so minutes of desperate struggle for survival, I realized that the voles do not want a truce. They will push harder and harder… and more black insect clouds were already heading my way.
I was running away. Ha, an escape? It is very delicately said. Simply panic I screwed up blindlyas long as they just leave me alone.
The gift shop turned out to be a salvation, and I ran into it like a madman, with signs of panic in her eyes ... The lady at the counter looked at me with understanding and understanding.
The door to the store was like an invisible barrier that flies did not cross. Phew ... I haven't experienced such a feeling of relief for a long time. It was safe inside.
After a few moments, I regained my balance of senses, enough to see the outstretched hand of the saleswoman still standing behind the counter. The extended index finger measured right next to me. I followed the invisible line drawn by the saleswoman's unequivocal gesture and…. eureka!
Oh, I'm stupid! That I hadn't thought about it sooner! A mosquito net over the head!

Mosquito net over the head - worth a fortune for me then


I kind of knew that Myvatn to "the lake of midges”After all, the name itself suggests it. From Icelandic "my"= Mosquito, midge, and"water”= Lake. The suggestion is simple and clear. The scale of the phenomenon, however, surpassed all imaginations.

Lake Myvatn, Iceland

Myvatn it is a shallow and very vast lake. It has an area of ​​over 36 km2 and its depth does not exceed 5 meters (in most areas it ranges from 2 - 4,5 m). It is located in a very active area of ​​geothermal springs, lava fields, active shield volcanoes, craters and rock formations. There are 50 islands on its surface.
The water in the lake is constantly heated with warm geothermal waters and never freezes. By the way, along with the thermal waters, a huge amount of minerals goes to the lake, giving the water a bright, blue-green color. The color of the water is best seen in suitable sunny weather and from above.
The temperature and chemical composition of the water create perfect conditions for the development of specific algae, forming large balls up to 12 centimeters. Algae balls that are constantly rolled in different directions by the undulating waters of the lake gather at the bottom of the reservoir in the form of vast "spherical colonies".
By the way, the rolling algae balls are a perfect habitat for the larvae of the volley fly, which almost finished me off. They provide them with food and shelter. At the end of the life cycle, when the pupa transforms into an adult specimen, the fly leaves the aquatic environment and flies above the water surface.
Every 4-5 years, a particularly numerous generation is born, and then the departure of insects from the water takes the form of a massive expansion, in the form of black clouds of insects, forming large swarms a few meters above the water surface.
The apogee of delusions is, of course, during the summer period.

Tourists say that there are millions of flies on Myvatn. Icelanders believe that this is not true because… there are billions of them.

I agree with the Icelanders' version 🙂

There are known cases when entire swarms of flies were able to kill individual animals. How? They filled the animal's respiratory tract so numerous and tightly that the animal was unable to breathe.
In some areas of the world, the massive displacement of bloodworms was so numerous that after natural death, the dead individuals covered with a layer of several centimeters highways or airport runways, leading to a car collision or a temporary stoppage of air traffic.

Do the volley flies on Lake Myvatn bite?

Here's some good news. They don't bite. Volunteers only feed until they transform into an adult. As an adult, when they fly above the water's surface, they do not eat anything and die after a few days.
Ochota are similar to other flies that we know well, i.e. mosquitoes, and are often mistaken for them, but I will repeat again: they don't bite.
If they bitten, I would probably not come back alive from there 🙂
However, their insistence is extremely troublesome. They go everywhere: into the mouth, nose, ears, under clothes ... a nightmare. There are so many of them that it is impossible to get rid of them. They are indifferent to cigarette smoke.
A mosquito net worn over the head, similar to the one worn by beekeepers (you can buy it online for a dozen or so zlotys) is necessary. It will protect you from the nuisance of insects and allow you to calmly enjoy the beautiful views while visiting the attractions at the lake.

Lake Myvatn, Iceland

Nature Reserve

Are there any positive sides to such a large number of bloodworms? Yes of course! It is an easy food for many species of fish and birds. The lake has been under strict protection since 1974. It is the so-called IBA bird sanctuary, i.e. a place classified as important for the protection of bird populations.
In summer, 16 species of ducks (a total of about 150) nest here, and whooper swans in winter.
Myvatn is visited by 240 species of migratory birds, and 76 species breed here.

Part of the area around the lake is closed to tourists from May 20 to July 20. During this time, the birds are brooding.

Attractions around Lake Myvatn

The lake itself is just one of the attractions. There are several other very interesting places near the lake. While you are here, you cannot miss them!
Below is a map with the location of all attractions. With a map, it will be much easier for you to plan your visit to those that interest you.

Map of attractions near Lake Myvatn
map background:

1. Mount Vindbelgur
2. Skutustadagigar pseudokraters - [click]
3. Höfði peninsula and Kálfastrandavogar lava formations
4. Dimmuborgir - lava rock formations - [click]
5. Hverfjall volcano
6. Mývatn Nature Bath - natural thermal pools
7. Hverir geothermal area - [click]
8. Leirhnjúkur volcano
9. Víti crater

Accommodation and hotels near Lake Myvatn

The number of interesting places in the vicinity of the lake is so large that you probably need to spend the night in the area. The prepared link filters the accommodation so that the closest ones are on the top of the list. Look: accommodation near Myvatn - [click]
In addition, below I present a few selected proposals.

Skutustadir Guesthouse - [click]

Hotel Laxa - [click]

Dimmuborgir Guesthouse - [click]

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One comment on “Myvatn - lake of volunteer flies"

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    Thanks for great article! I learned a lot from it and now I know how to avoid suffering from these little flies.
    Best Regards,


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