Return of the Flies
Posted on April 4, 2020 Posted by John Scalzi 35 Comments
It’s pleasant to think of where I live as a bucolic paradise, and a lot of the time it is just that. But one does have to remember that nature includes the less than pretty parts, like, for example, hundreds of recently-metamorphosed houseflies congregating on one’s back porch and (in this case) trash can, sunning themselves before heading off to do whatever it is that flies do with their time.
The cats don’t mind them, because the cats like to hunt and eat the little critters, but all things being equal, the human residents of the Scalzi Compound would rather have them go away, and may be inclined to take a fly swatter to them in order to encourage their dispersal, or, at least, removal. No matter how many you swat, however, there are always more. Flies are like that.
Anyway: One of the less attractive harbingers of spring around these here parts. Not exactly the swallows to Capistrano.
Well, I suspect there are many wild birds who are looking forward to this fly feast
Lord of the Flies. Ohio style.
I still recall/am traumatized by the one summer when I was a kid where there was an insane infestation of deerflies in our town. You would step outside and a half-dozen would divebomb you. It was disturbing and distressing.
Yep. Take that power sprayer or hose and disperse anything that’s full of maggots …let the birds at’em.
I am sure that if you learn to live them they will leave you alone… on another world
say hello to my lil friend http://www.bugasalt.com
Could be worse John.
They could be horse flies!
The flies will be around long after us humans die off by mother nature or by our own hand. But they do make a tasty treat for the cats.
…or, as Zelazny fans would say, not exactly the spiderbats returning to Capistrano. (This Immortal reference. I occasionally smoke out other Zelazny fans by dropping lines like ‘So they play that on their fascist banjos, eh?’)
Vacuum. Less destructive than firebombing more effective than shooing them with swatters. Don’t bother with those bug vacuums though. Use the biggest most industrial vacuum you can. Improves your chances of sucking them up at a distance or on the fly and makes sure those bugs are beat to paste else they just come out mad.
Someone on local Nextdoor asked if anyone had a copy of Lord of the Flies they could borrow. My wife talked me out of replying, “Wait a few weeks, you’ll be living it…”
As horrible as flies are, our damsel flies (think Daddy Long Legs with wings), are worse. They choose their mating season before the spiders can take care of most of them, and they love to roost on your face as you go out to enjoy a moment on the deck. Cats do love to eat them, so we love our feral kitties for that.
May you and yours stay safe and be well.
Here the ants have started marching into the house.
Crafty beat me to it.
Occasionally I’m sorry you’re such a good photographer, John. ;-)
Pop bottle with screw cap, a little bit of something smelly in the bottom. Spray into pop bottle with spray adhesive, which will stay sticky quite a while. Set in the sun where flies gather, first thing in morning. Screw cap on top in evening; by then it will be holding hundreds of flies and possibly thousands of eggs. Toss in garbage (not recycling). Set out another bottle the next morning.
Very little mess on your hands and some future archeologist digging through that landfill is going to get a couple good papers out of it. Just try to not have cats reaching a paw in there and getting stuck on the glue; getting them free is difficult and they have no sense of humor about it.
One would think that as an Ohioan you might rather have referred to the annual return of the buzzards (actually turkey vultures, Cathartes aurea) to Hinckley, near Cleveland, every March 15 (although this year they may be sheltering in place elsewhere). Let us hope their presence won’t be necessary.
Also–merely vacuuming houseflies often leaves them staggering back out of the hose, thinking “whoa, that was intense,” when the vacuum is shut off. Put half a Shell pest strip in the vacuum bag and they’ll meet their maker.
I know you weren’t asking for advice, and I have NO connection to this company other than being a very satisfied customer for over 20 years. But Fly Predators have drastically cut my barn flies. :-) I usually buy double their suggested amount, because the neighbors have cows and horses also and I like to spread them around the neighborhood. :-)
Like I said, I’ve used these for 20+ years, no financial connection to the company. Oh, and they send me a calendar every year because I pay yearly, in December. :-)
Yeah well you ain’t seen nothing until you’ve had the love bug connection in south Texas. It’s some gnarly shit.
Thank you for that. I would give a great deal to see what Zelazny would write in this time of the structures of the world collapsing; we lost him so very young, for a writer. Writers don’t retire; they keep writing to the end and he had so many years ahead of him to do that writing.
As it is I am rereading Damnation Alley; looking around at the government and corporate response to Covid-19 it is very clear that we need a lot of Hell Tanners. But at least we have the story of Damnation Alley to remind us of that fact…
With our horses in the pasture we started to use Fly Faires. They come in a bag that we scatter around places flies bred and they bugs that come out eat fly eggs… Really cuts down the fly population.
Those look like deer flies. I hate those biting bastards; they make the great outdoors Not Fun.
Lady bugs, may flies, June bugs, love bugs, mosquito hawks, mosquitoes. In the past ten years we’ve been inundated with cicada killers (giant wasps that hover a foot or so over the grass). They mostly ignore humans, but they’re freaky.
Are you built above an ancient Native American burial ground? Is there a secret Satanic murder room in the basement? That has serious Amityville vibes.
Based on the critters that are in best focus, we may looking at members of the genus Pollenia, family Calliphoridae; the same flies are demonstrating the behavior that gives the genus its common name: they’re called “Cluster Flies.”
My harbinger of spring is stuffed sinuses and burning nose cavities from allergy. I’m not entirely sure whether or not flies would be better or worse.
Yep – I live in the South so spring is heralded by the return of many six legged critters, particularly mosquitoes . And pollen…lots and lots of pollen.
But it’s also lovely and not too hot or humid as it will be in summer, so on the balance more good that irritating.
I hope you’re all safe and well.
John Scalzi, The New Lord of the Flies.
That pictures is kind of gross, but this post made me laugh. It’s similar to ones I’ve seen from friends who’ve been in lockdown a little too long. Isn’t there a song about how when we go crazy, let’s all go crazy together? That’s us. My best to you, John.
OK, flies are not a COVID-19 vector, flies are not a COVID-19 vector, flies are not a COVID-19 vector.
Because they don’t travel far from their favorite spots, their little legs can pick up only so many viruses, and only in big built-up cities where everything is close together might they be an actual problem that way. … Right? Probably?
Sorry, New Yorkers. Add flies to the list of things that can carry COVID-19 by touch, along with pets and pizza rats and sewer gators.
But it seems like rural Ohio should be fine.
In my suburban neighborhood I count it a harbinger of spring when the worms start coming up onto the sidewalks after a rain.
We moved into our new house a couple of years ago (downsizing). It’s just down the road from where we used to live. You’d see the occasional fly at the old house. The new house is plagued with the critters. They are especially plentiful within the last month or so as it warms up. We have an enclosed portico with plenty of windows. I’m always out there vacuuming the critters off the window. Our cat likes to eat them too but eventually she regurgitates the whole mess somewhere.
Oh, yes, some of those big fields around you are farms, aren’t they.
Still . . . beats living in a city.
these are likely to be Cluster flies—based on appearance and behavior. They are parasites of earthworms. In the fall I often see large numbers on windows. But no health concerns. Unless one is an earthworm…
…though we recall that SARS-COV2 began as a disease of bats. Cue dramatic music as the Scalzi family searches the house desperately for a flame thrower. Stay healthy & safe!