Fighting Flies

Having spent the entire day armed with an aerosol can and stalking flies around the house like a mad woman with a nervous tick, I have decided that enough is enough. Having already lost the last 3 months of my life to the debilitating effects of vertigo, there is no way on God’s earth that I am now going to put up with a constant buzzing in my ear that I can do something about.

So tonight I brought out the big guns. Envirosafe traps, ($10 from Bunnings). A quick and easy (just add water to the powder and shake sort of easy) way of catching the little buggers as they buzz in the kitchen door and head straight for my clean work top.  Their presence might be slightly more tolerable if not for the fact that right before they trample their mucky little feet across whatever it is that I happen to be eating at the time, they have been out in the garden and feasting on a buffet of the dogs finest deposits.

Strangely enough the idea of the dogs last dinner ending up smeared across my plate is an incredibly unappetising one.

After last year’s endless battle against these airborne pests, I am determined that this year I will be ready for them. If it’s the last thing I manage this spring, it will be winning the war against the world’s most pointless and annoying insect and hopefully coaxing as many of them as possible into the various watery graves hung around the house.

I am aware that this may make me sound like a blood thirsty insect murderer, and a slightly possessed one at that, but in my defense this is the effect that an endless buzzing drone in ones ear can have on an otherwise peace loving girl.

It may be ridiculous to let something so small wind me up so much, but they do. They really do. They are almost impossible to catch, swat or squash and can literally drive you up the wall when trying to coax one back out through an open window. I suppose their ‘you’ll never catch me’ razor sharp reactions have something to do with those 2 large compound eyes that let them see in all directions without even needing to move.

These eyes mean that unfortunately it is pointless trying to sneak up slowly on a fly from behind. It will watch you, laugh at you and then nip across the room and land on your half eaten sandwich before you have even lifted up the newspaper to swat it.

Strangely enough although flies have these clever, swiveling eyes to help prevent themselves from being flattened against the wall, they don’t actually have any eyelids to protect them. So although they spend much of their time tiptoeing through rubbish, rotting meat and dog do-do, they then have to rub their own eyes with their dirty feet to keep them clean. I wonder if this is natures way of enforcing karma?

Flies come from the Diptera family (Greek: di = two, and pteron = wing), which includes all those annoying insects with wings (namely flies, mosquitoes and midges) whose sole purpose in life seems to be to carry germs, spread diseases, chow down on unsavory things on the ground and generally ruin any attempt to ever sit and relax outside or eat the food you have just charcoal-ed on the BBQ.

Apparently there are 30 000 species of Diptera that live in Australia alone. At a rough estimate I would say for a handful of weeks in the year at least half of these species seem to dwell in our back garden.

I was aware that Perth had something of a fly problem before I came, (the fly screens on all of the doors and windows were a subtle clue) but when it comes to forces of nature, seeing is definitely believing. All I can say is I am very glad that I didn’t arrive right in the middle of the ‘fly’ season last year, otherwise I might just have packed up my bags and returned to the UK. That last statement is a real indication of how bad they can get, as nothing would make me want to go back to a country that is disappearing down the toilet.

The worst time in Perth is in the Spring, around about now, hence the traps and the war cry. At this point the weather warms up and all those 1000’s of nasty flies wake up ready to do battle. I say wake up because flies can actually remain dormant until their body temperature reaches 18 degrees, they then emerge to begin their hunt for food when the air temperatures goes above 20 degrees.

For that (relatively) short time of the year when they first appear, this place can be a nightmare. Forget the spiders being an issue, the flies are without doubt the single most annoying part of Australia’s wildlife that you need to contend with. They can make going out for a walk a monumental struggle against gravity. The amount of flapping you have to do with your arms and hands is enough to make your feet leave the ground.

This constant flapping about your face and person is known as the ‘Australian Salute’. Having a third hand at this time would be very useful, to push off that one fly that has decided to make you it’s buddy for the day and follow you for hour.

Everywhere you go you can see people walking around in the throes of what looks like a fully fledged epileptic fit. Worse still for those mothers pushing prams. If they use one hand to swat a fly then they run the risk of junior veering off under the wheels of a car, if they keep both hands on the buggy then they are forced to eat fly. Babies are OK, they are all hidden from view under what looks a lot like an Arabic abaya/jilbab. A Factor 50 sunshade that also doubles up as a moving fly screen.

So to save myself the stress brought on by the inevitable aerial attack, this year I have decided that for the worst weeks I will not worry about forcing the kids out for fresh air and exercise. We will instead stick the dog on a treadmill, stay on the safe side of the fly screen and burn calories on the Wii.

I might also invest in one of those famous cork hats. Finally I realise that it might just be worth looking like an extra off ‘Crocodile Dundee’ if it meant that my diet wasn’t supplemented with quite so much unwanted protein.

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