The Mono Lake in Yosemite National Park is known to be quite special in its category, being three times saltier than the ocean. Its water has an elevated pH, with very high concentrations of sodium carbonate and borax. This being said, it is no surprise than no fish has the ability to survive in such a harsh environment.
However, there is one little insect that has found a way to upgrade its “equipment” and make Mono Lake its home. This little creature is called the alkali fly and, unlike any other members of its winged family, it has unexpectedly evolved to benefit from the harsh conditions of Mono Lake, under the waters of which it lays eggs and forages. This little fly is so famous, that it was even mentioned in Mark Twain’s “Roughing It”, were the author masterfully praised it for its ability to stay underwater for a long time and then come out to the surface completely dry.
The fascinating alkali fly has also been dedicated an entire study, which can be found in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The biologist who studied the insect discovered that in order to submerge in the Mono Lake, the fly surrounds its body with an air bubble made from a special wax, which repels the water that is rich in carbonate. Considering that the alkali fly has 36 percent more hair than other fly species, it is much easier for the air to create a bubble around it. At the same time, their hook-shaped feet enable the fly to grasp the slippery underwater rocks.
Michael Dickinson, the biologist who studied the alkali fly was completely amazed by its ability to willingly dive underwater. He also mentioned that this skill set is not necessarily an evolution, as much as an exceptional upgrade of the insect’s ability to remain dry. Basically, the alkali fly identified the immense potential of Mono Lake and it adapted to benefit from it, fully taking advantage of the lack of predators and the abundance of food. Cool or what?