SWAT Team

For those of you who don’t live in the country, here’s a reason to feel smug. We’ve had a plague of flies.

Initially I wondered whether my rather casual attitude to cleaning had created a fly colony somewhere in the house. I was relieved to hear from little friend Amy-next-door that they also had ‘hundreds of flies’ at their place. Amy’s mum is a super efficient housekeeper, so I took that as a sign to stop worrying that my own level of domestic effort has more in common with Neil from The Young Ones than with Martha Stewart.

Large Spider

This is Doris the spider.

According to the Whangarei Leader (and who am I to argue), the real cause is warm, wet, humid weather, which has turned Northland into fly orgy central. And apparently the local nasties didn’t hold back. They’ve been breeding like… Well — flies.

There were so many of the little buzzers we resorted to fly spray, something we usually avoid for fear of poisoning ourselves and our collection of useful house spiders (including Doris who lives under the outside sill of the ranchslider). This time though the Forbearing Husband and I gave in. Four whole cans of neurotoxins were dispersed around the house over the course of a week. I feared for our health, but meanwhile the flies kept right on flying (see previous posting on the surprising virility of Northland pest populations). In desperation I resorted to the time honoured ‘bash them with a newspaper’ technique.

This is a random picture of doughnuts. It’s hard to find acceptable pictures for a post on squashing flies.

That was a week ago, and I’ve since become completely addicted to slamming flies. It’s better than any computer game, and an investment of 15 minutes or so a day keeps the house mostly pest free. Additional and unexpected benefits have been (1) a distinct improvement in my aim (anyone for tennis?), and (2) cleaner windows, since even a housekeeper of my dubious calibre can only stand so many bloodstains on the glass.

During my endeavours I’ve noticed that some flies are definitely smarter than others. There are those that taunt me by sitting on my newly clean windows, no doubt sensing my reluctance to generate fresh smears. Some alight only on surfaces I cannot bash heartily with my folded Supercheap Auto flyer swatter — my laptop, the feijoas in the fruit bowl, the Forbearing Husband’s latest scratchings; others play dead only to reanimate; and some waste my time by arranging their dead bodies on the floor in such life like positions that try to I kill them all over again. All in all I’m a bit worried that my missed shots may be inadvertently hastening evolution of a more wily version of musca domestica. The Super Fly.

Anyone else out there with a fly swatting obsession? Don’t be shy, you’re among friends.

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chrissyb

14 Comments

  1. My name is Deborah and I’m a swataholic.
    Do you want a photo of one of Stephen’s fly traps for your post? I have several. While definitely gross, the carcasses are en masse rather than individual squashed bodies, which may make it more acceptable to the readers? As an addition to, not a replacement for the donut photo, I hasten to add!

    • Nice sharing Deborah. How long since your last swat? Perhaps Stephen can write instructions for his fly traps and I can share them on the blog, accompanied by a photo of chocolate cake.

  2. I’m right in there with you Sukalati!
    ET is installing a solar pest deter rant that relies on ultra sonic sound. Would it work for flies one wonders ….?? Do flies even have ears we wonder?

    • So, another doughnutaholic weighing in then! Solar ultrasound — very high tech. I’ll be interested in the results. I will go away now and Google whether flies have ears.

  3. Are you sure they’re not cluster flies? We get them at this time of year – they come in when the weather starts cooling down to hibernate inside in the attic, in gaps in windows, behind pictures etc. Apparently leave a pheromone so they keep coming back year after year.

    We usually use one of those electric tennis racket fly swatters, but when the cluster flies come we resort to fly spray too – even get up in the attic to spray the thousands that try to overwinter up there.

    • Thanks for the heads-up Charlotte! Goodness, cluster flies sound like the stuff of horror movies. ‘Snakes on a Plane’, ‘Cluster Flies in the Attic’…

      I’ve done a quick Google images search and fortunately our current batch of flies look to be the plain old house fly variety. I did see a couple of much larger ones though. I assumed they were blow flies but I’ll definitely have a closer look next I see one just in case. We can’t actually get into our ceiling space here because of the raked ceilings so an infestation would be a bit disastrous.

      I like the idea of the tennis racket swatter. I must spring for one of those next time I see them for sale.

  4. Good old plastic flyswat, but you do need to scrub it occasionally if they’re embedded (gak). And don’t swat a blowfly – their innards (and eggs) stick on the window. Why doesn’t Maisie catch flies??? Does Doris the Goliath spider actually catch anything, or just scare people?

    • Maisie isn’t too bad at catching flies, she just doesn’t catch enough to keep up. I’ve never actually seen Doris in action, but given the size of her one assumes she must be eating hundreds of them.

      Embedded. That’s the way. There’ll be no re-ainimation from that one!

  5. Can’t stand flies in the house! Am an expert swatter – with an actual fly swat – none of this amateur folded magazine business for me! Part of my method is to dispose of the corpse afterwards – usually down the sink, followed by a torrent of water (sometimes those clever flies play dead, but I like to ensure they actually are!). We have a fly screen on the front door – and if anyone leaves it open some fish wife soon screeches at them to close the screen door!

    • All these people with actual professional level equipment are staring to give me swatter envy. I wonder whether I need a better selection of weaponry?

    • Scary. Thanks though. Will be keeping my eyes peeled for any signs.

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