Fly Zone

What the GIGANTIC flaming doodah.

I have not been having a great time lately, as you will/could/may have surmised by my lack of blog posting*, first there was THE HEAT and then there was MORE HEAT and then when the heat slacked off a little last week I had stomach flu which of course brought the ME back again full roar, with teeth and hobnailed boots.  And now it’s hot again, and it’s due to be hot all week.  JOY.  LACK OF JOY.**  And then . . .

Yesterday was the first morning [sic] I woke up feeling that I might have a little energy again.***  As I leaped lightly out of bed% I heard a strange buzzing noise.  I hope that’s happening outdoors, I said to myself, applying a double handful of water to my hair and then running my fingers emphatically through it in an attempt to make it behave.%%

The buzzing noise was not happening outdoors.  I came downstairs to HUNDREDS of houseflies battering themselves against all my ground-floor windows and entwining themselves unlovingly in the dishtowels, the pot and pan handles, houseplants, furniture legs, backpack straps, and anything else entwinable.  HUNDREDS.  I AM NOT JOKING.  HUUUUUNDREDS.  IT WAS DISGUSTING.  Also scary and overwhelming.  Even houseflies are scary if there are enough of them.  And I have no idea where they came from.%%%

I killed I don’t know how many and then went screaming off to the ironmongers/hardware shop for anything they had for houseflies, and they said oh, that’s interesting, several people have been in today with exactly the same problem.  I can’t decide if this is reassuring or not.  Well, yes, it is a little reassuring, it suggests that my personal non-Egyptian plague is not because I am a Limb of Satan& and attracting his creatures&&, but then I just shift mindset into wondering what’s going on with the world.  Climate and global warming and malaria in southern England etc.  And housefly explosions aren’t restricted to New Arcadia either—I wrote an email to a friend in Broceliande about other business and included mention of my hideous domestic assault and she wrote back by return electron saying OMG THAT’S EXACTLY WHAT HAPPENED TO ME TODAY.  And Broceliande is ten or so miles from here.

So, you’re saying, hundreds?  I can hear your lips curling.  NO.  I AM NOT EXAGGERATING FOR EFFECT.&&&  There mostly isn’t room to swing a swatter in this house, which is small and ahem ahem ahem crowded$, so I do most of my target-and-destroy with tissues, and I am telling you my strike rate is very good, especially for a crazy old lady shaking with fury/terror at an ugly crawling dystopian susurration of frelling houseflies.  I get three or four flies per tissue$$.  I started yesterday with a box of 100 tissues over half full;  by the end of the day I was over halfway through a new box.  Plus the twenty or fifty I killed with the swatter—the dozen or twenty I frelling stepped on—the additional twenty or so tissues, at three-four corpses per, which I grabbed from other boxes around the house in my mad frenzy—and the twenty or thirty of the enemy that the nearly useless rubbish I bought at the ironmongers caught.$$$  You do the maths.

And . . . any readers of the old blog who might conceivably be thinking, there was an unusually hot dry summer a few years ago@ when, don’t we remember, there was an indoor invasion of BATSYES.  NOW SHUT UP AND THINK HAPPY THOUGHTS ABOUT RAIN.@@

* * *

* And for which the usual apologies with a few extra curlicues to add interest.   I really AM going to get back to posting REGULARLY—really I am—but if this weather is a forecast of summers to come I may have to double up over the winter and take the summers off. 

** So, you know, anyone who has been wondering if maybe I’m not posting because I, perhaps, ran off to Japan, where it’s true it’s even hotter but everywhere is AIR CONDITIONED, and have been having a little difficulty setting up my on line life because I don’t speak the language, um, no.  I don’t actually like air conditioning, and while if it’s either that or death by rays it’s the obvious better choice, I’d rather just live somewhere I can survive in the real world.  Which I admit is looking a little dicey in southern England.

*** My Japanese lesson this week, tomorrow, is going to be frankly embarrassing.  I should be studying right now, but while the brain is enough back on line to write a blog post—well, I think—the Memory for New Things is not working at all.

% CRASH.  OW.  I wake up slowly with optional bruising.

%%  The air is as dry as Palaeolithic bones buried in the desert and my hair IS STILL STANDING ON END.  One of the additional reasons I liked the old, cool, damp, mizzly England is because damp made my previous hair fuzz up in a semi-semi-semi-Pre-Raphaelite way.  I’m afraid to think what the new hair^ is going to look like if we revert to damp and mizzly.^^  It is settling down sort of as it gets longer, but it gets longer very slowly partly because it keeps insisting on corkscrewing at the ends.^^^

^ About which there is NO TRACE of Pre Raphaelite influence, even in my imagination.


^^^ Which curled-up knots I keep seeing out of the corners of my eyes and thinking OMG I HAVE BUMBLEBEES LIVING IN MY HAIR.  But it’s still frelling long enough that today when Atlas has been painting the door frame and I went out the door very carefully, but, partly because I still haven’t adjusted to the new hair standing on end sideways, when I turned my head to shut the door behind me MY HAIR SWUNG OUT AND CLANGED INTO THE WET DOORFRAME ARRRRRRRGH.  Also ouch as I ripped free.  Never mind, a thread of white, even if it’s doorframe paint, is not going to be noticed in this elderly mixed-media briar patch.   The door frame is fine.

%%% We used to have dramatic outbreaks of those big horrible bluebottles at the old house, which always meant that something had died in one of the chimneys and we hadn’t noticed.  In a house that size, when we only lived in part of it, it was easier than you think to miss a dead jackdaw in a chimney, especially when the bottom is blocked up and you thought the top was also blocked up.

However I have a special memory of picking up the phone one Saturday to hear the somewhat stressed voice of one of Peter’s daughters-in-law^ saying, we have a sudden eruption of big nasty bluebottle flies, do you have any ideas, and I said promptly, look for something that’s died, for example up an unused chimney, and she said I knew you’d know. 

But in a house the size of this cottage, I would know about something that had died in the chimney, there being only one chimney, and it centrally located, included an un-blocked-up—except by a large chest of drawers because there’s nowhere else to put it—hearth in my bedroom.  And these aren’t bluebottles—they’re ordinary gross little buzzy houseflies.  Gazillions of them.

^ I do often call Peter’s grandchildren my stepgrandchildren—the last four were born after I joined the family after all—but his kids and their spouses are way nearer my age than I am Peter’s.  His eldest is a year and a half younger than I am, and his youngest twelve years younger.  I think I sound like a dork calling them my stepchildren, so I don’t.

& Readers of the old blog may remember that I have been termed such by the Right Wing Christian Loony division.  More than once.  And while I think they’re off their collective rocker, it’s still unpleasant and uncomfortable and unsettling.  Including worrying about how they’re raising the children who are forbidden to read my books because I am a Limb, etc.

&& Mostly I don’t kill things if I can help it.  There are a few exceptions.  Houseflies.  Mosquitoes.  Cockroaches, but you don’t get those outside of cities—yet.  Although I’m starting to sweat the wasps:  I’ve just put my third in two days outdoors.  My lovely new Waspinator isn’t working this year, unless the wasps are more reckless than usual because of the weather?  I wouldn’t blame them.  But I still don’t want them indoors.  Whimper.

&&& Given my somewhat regular use of vivid language, you would be forgiven for thinking I might be.

$ I was telling Hannah this story last night and at that point she laughed.^

^ Also Chaos doesn’t like the noise the swatter makes.  It makes him creep into his crate and look at me reproachfully.  He can cope with the imprecations that are a necessary component to fly-squashing but not that whistling thwacking noise.  Well honeybun you could help.  Darkness used to catch flies.  Good protein source, he’d say, licking his lips, I have the stomach enzymes to cope.  And Chaos used to catch a few, apparently because Darkness did.  He doesn’t any more.  And all the frelling hellterror does is wag her gorblimey frelling tail when I kneel on the floor, tissues poised for attack, next to where she’s toasting herself in the extreme sunlight crashing through the kitchen door, because those bottom panes are favourites with bombinating plagues.#

# Also, where are all those frelling spiders one had lovingly saved from drowning in the bath, when one needs them?!  The only one I saw all day in this spider-prone house was hanging dead at the end of its own frelling web thread.  Arrrrrrgh.  Spider history does not record if it died of horror, as if the hamburger on your plate rose up, cloned itself a gazillion times and came after you, or of joy, lost in a mansion made of brownies and lemon meringue pie, and all its architectural struts glasses of champagne.

$$ I got to six once.  Not seven.  But then I’m not a tailor and can’t make myself a belt, and besides I don’t want to marry a princess, so that’s okay.^

^ I suppose it depends on the princess.

$$$ I know that flypaper is useless, but it seems like such a good idea, till you watch the flies ignoring it.  I also bought two kinds of toxic ick, that you put on your windowsill or stick to the windows, but since I’m not seeing any belly-up flies on the floor that I didn’t put there by my swift and deadly hand, I’m going to take the lot down again.  I don’t like using poison, I was just frantic. 

@ Although I wish to point out not nearly as long, hot and dry as this one

@@ Anyone reading the weather reports knows this is seriously not a joke.  As an organic junkie who furthermore tries to keep her stomping-the-planet footprint small, I’m wondering what’s going to happen to food availability when this summer settles down into whatever autumn is going to be.  The standing crops around here are not only half the height they should be, they’re white-gold rather than gold-brown—very pretty, but I can’t believe there’s any nutritional value in them?—and a lot of them have already been cut and baled, which shouldn’t be happening for a month yet.  We had a big field fire near here a week or so ago and there is way too good a likelihood of more, and if we have more than one at a time, we’re not going to have the firefighters.  And that doesn’t address food prices next year.  Prices for some of the luxury seasonable veg are already off any chart my bank balance can follow.  And think of the poor wild critters trying to survive—and I assume some of the domestic-fodder ones that are going to have to be slaughtered early.

22 thoughts on “Fly Zone”

  1. This sounds utterly nightmarish.

    And you describe it FAR too well. I’m shuddering just *imagining* it. ugh ugh ugh.

    So, is Atlas painting the door frame in an attempt to, Exodus-like, keep the flies (and all other plagues) out? (I’m joking… mostly.)

    On a slightly more helpful note… did you try the trick with vinegar, dish soap, and paper rolled in a funnel?
    I know it traps fruit flies, but I can’t vouch for efficacy when it comes to house flies.
    Worth a try, though.

    GOOD LUCK. I hope that the heat breaks and the flies disappear very very soon.

  2. I think flies can lay eggs somewhere in your house and then all the larvae hit adulthood at the same time–this happened at my apartment (in the US!) once and my roommate killed about 50 flies in an hour. I, fortunately, was not home.

  3. We had this happen regularly at a lodge I worked for in South Dakota! With flies and, for added scariness, wasps.

    We used the crevice tool attachment on the industrial Dyson vacuum cleaner to basically suck them out of the air – tried to do it first thing in the morning before it got hot and they started moving faster. And then we’d put the entire vacuum into the walk-in freezer for an hour to kill the dang things before we dared empty the bag… Maybe something to try if they return?

  4. Your flies could be cluster flies (Pollenia rudis), rather than house flies (Musca domestica). Cluster flies live and breed in fields, they are parasitic on earthworms and their larvae live in soil until the adults emerge at the end of summer. In the autumn, the adults congregate by the hundreds in houses, usually near windows or in attics. It seems a little early for cluster flies to be congregating, but with the crazy weather you are having, it could be? Perhaps you could ask someone at the Royal Entomological Society?

  5. Food prices are going to jump, long wet spring, too hot a summer. And potentially a no-deal Brexit next year (many apologies for mentioning politics). I’m going to be laying in a six month supply of essential medication and doing a gentle stocking up of the food shelves over the rest of the year.

    1. My thoughts exactly. The hmm hmm [Brexit] thing is frightening me into the same action. And I have to buy essential meds from the EU anyway…

      Robin, if it’s any consolation, I live as far north in England and as high up as it’s possible to be without stumbling over the Border, but still it’s hotter than Hades here, with biblical clouds of house flies in our home too. Truly gruesome, and I’m sure they’re breeding in here somewhere.

      Rats are also breeding very fast in this weather and they’ve moved from adjacent farms into the village gardens. The combined efforts of ourselves and neighbours (shooting, trapping) are barely making a dint in numbers.

  6. Yay!! good to see you back!! 🙂
    I’m sorry, I’m already laughing!! not that the housefly situation is actually funny IRL *shudder* but… your descriptions … LOL!! 😀 XD . It’s a bit surprising that the hellterror isn’t launching herself at them in a frenzy though – seems like the sort of thing that she might have found fun ..unless the prospect of roasting herself in the seldom seen sunshine is too much of a good opportunity to waste , even for a bit of fun.
    The fly situation -it’s not just in southern England BTW , here in the Midlands a friend of my mom has had the same fly situation (very yucky!! ) for no apparent reason. Although since you mention bats, she also has a bunch of those living in part of the house permanently too , and she is not even allowed to move them….
    *thinks about it* um..maybe this is not very comforting info to share with you after all… ?!?!? *prepares to run and hide*
    Running off to Japan without knowing the language yet and then having to suffer air con would actually be waaay more fun than swatting a zillion flies in roasting temperatures.

    Oooh talking of learning Japanese, have you tried Duolingo as an extra help alongside your proper lessons? it’s a free online language learning thingy (thingy. ??! oh noes it’s one of *those* days!! ) and while it can be infuriating, it does start very easy, repeats stuff in lessons as you level up on various subjects, so not too taxing on the brain even when having one of “those” days- and even my OH is finding it helpful . Maybe give it a try if you haven’t already? I’m not sure how good the Japanese is on there as it seems to vary depending on language , but might be worth a look for days when you can’t manage doing an actual lesson/homework but a quick 5 minutes of non-brain-frazzling language lesson can be fitted in? 🙂
    Does that make sense?…. I tried to add a link but I can’t seem to do that . Also apologies if it’s already been mentioned.

    Pre-Raphaelite hair is awesome – just sayin’ 😉 your hair descriptions are priceless!!! good thing I wasn’t drinking tea when you got to the bit about the bees and the doorframe!!

    Hope all goes well with your lesson tomorrow, and that the flies are all gone soon. So sorry I can’t force myself to think of awful mizzly raining days even for a fave author *looks down at feet awkwardly* ….unless I can imagine it just over your part of the country.. wait!!! that reminds me – surely the Abbey at the end of the universe can do something about the weather in your area, if not the flies, right?! 🙂 *Jedi hugs* xx

    1. Duolingo is handy. I used it for several months last year, and while I didn’t get fluent in anything, I learned to recognize some basic phrases in half a dozen languages.

      1. I’m learning Welsh via duolingo. I have the old app on my phone, and I set it to nag me to do 5 minutes a day. What I love about it is that if I’m too brain-dead to acquire new information, I can just practice either one of the specific areas, or whatever duolingo suggests. They have apps for ios and android, or you can pull up their webpage in your browser of choice (

  7. The fly situation sounds positively *dreadful*. (Shudder) Here’s hoping this is a one time event!

    I live in a house that has had interior bats, to great feline delight and human consternation. The bat removal guy I hired to get rid of them said that it’s not a coincidence that they appear in hot summer weather. He said they roost inside the walls during the day, and when it gets super hot in there, they move down to escape the heat. When evening comes, they’re unable to find their usual exit to the outside, and so they exit where they can: into our living spaces. When they’re inside, the best thing to do is turn OFF all interior lights, open doors and windows, and turn ON exterior lights. The bat wants to be trapped in your house even less than you want it there. It WILL leave. The bat guy put in what he called a “bat valve” in the place mine were getting in (bat can exit, but cannot return), left it for a few weeks, and then closed up the hole.

    Fingers crossed you don’t need this knowledge!

  8. p.s. You know Naomi Novik’s books, I hope. Her latest – Spinning Silver – is spectacular.

  9. I empathize with you *so hard* on the house flies- I went out of town for a long weekend in recent memory and forgot to run the garbage disposal after I did the last few dishes before leaving. Apparently there was one female house fly in the house who found that bit of food and I came back to one of the levels of hell.

    I recommend the small sticky sheets of plastic (usually about 5”x8”?) that you can put on the windows- eventually the flies will try to get out via window and they will stick to them and die. They don’t drop off so you do have to deal with lots of dead fly carcasses stuck to your window but it’s better than live flies? They took care of my issue within a few days. I think the cats might have helped too.

  10. I had a roommate who advocated the use of flypaper. Over the kitchen sink. Being considerably taller then she was and having long hair this was a disaster when I went to wash the dishes!

  11. Auuuuuuuuuugh that sounds dreadful. My personal plague is currently much smaller and made of wasps. I know there’s got to be a nest somewhere around my apartment complex, which is unfortunate and not fun but also something I’m putting in the someone else’s problem category. But when I went to do laundry a few weeks ago there was one in the drum of the washing machine. I suppose not entirely unexpected because it’s a public area and someone left the door open. The one several weeks later in my houseplants I have no explanation for except vague whimpering noises. Anyways, thus I wish you luck in the crusade against your wasps.

  12. I can’t help but wonder if the US trains are going to affect your food supply, too. They already are here in the US.

    Also, egads, that’s a lot of flies!

  13. I found the Blog!!! Very excited. I stopped looking at it because the not thereness made me unhappy. I kept thinking I was going to write to your publisher to check you were OK, but I didn’t want to in case they told me you were not….
    And then for some reason I checked again today and you are here! Yeah! Have not had time to Read it yet, just general happy dance, hope the dogs are well (yes I did read enough to notice the ghost, I am sorry) Hello to everyone!

  14. Hoo boy, cluster flies. I second Maggie’s hypothesis and Mareth’s technique! I’ve had those too, in an apartment building and with zero warning. They honestly didn’t seem interested in the trash or anything, just in getting out. I also had a disgustingly full vacuum. Rather than freezing it I put plastic wrap over the end and rubber-banded it in place, while wistfully hoping that the speed of impact on being sucked up and the compacting of the volume of the things would be enough to prevent any limping, zombie-like, out to bump drunkenly against the windowpanes again.

    I also had a bout of stomach flu this July. It always seems extra unfair to get sick in summer when there is SO much happening. I hope you can recharge and refresh and stay cool! Hanging a damp sheet with a fan blowing on it can cool things down surprisingly well, if temporarily. After living in Asia I also tend to avoid using AC, as I found I got sick more often when I was juggling extreme temperature changes.

    Good luck, hang in there!

  15. I remember in my youth, holidays in Greece where every outdoor taverna would have an open plastic bottle of ?water/vinegar/sugar standing around for flies and wasps to crawl in, not find their way out, and drown. Looked disgusting but seemed to work. A variant would include a small fragment of raw meat for house fly attracting…..

  16. Just wondering…. if these are drain flies, it is possible that pouring hot (boiling) water down your drains (all of them), including the ones outside, your toilet(s), your washing machine, etc. anything with a drain, might go a fair way to killing them off. The other possibility is checking to see if you have rotten vegetables anywhere. We found rotten potatoes and the drain flies were happily feasting on those. Also, apple cider vinegar in bowls may help attract AND kill them. Cover with cellophane/plastic wrap and poke holes in the top with a toothpick. White containers work better than the other colors and than the clear ones, but anything will help. Fingers crossed some of this helps.

  17. I used my vacuum to get rid of the swarms of Japanese ladybugs that appeared in my house the first year we were afflicted by them. It worked very well. Thank goodness we no longer get swarms, but if they’re too high for a tissue smash, the vacuum cleaner comes out again. We had an influx of wasps one year–they apparently had a nest under the soffit and could get into the house from there. I used the vacuum on the invading ones, but needed an exterminator to deal with the nest.
    We’ve been having a monsoon summer–heat AND rain (and rain, and rain)–but the heat has dropped to normal July temps and the rain has switched to showers instead of torrential downpours. It’s an improvement. I hope your weather pattern shifts to something more like normal.

  18. I had no idea you had enslaved the people of Israel. As for those children forbidden to read your books, probably they will sneak a read or two at some time. Having been a child myself a gabillion years ago, I know how forbidden fruits are most tempting. Raised in a conservative, evangelical church by a most sensible mother the majority of her children are open-minded and seeking, not shut down and knowing it all. I encouraged my boys and girl to read a wide variety of authors. Said daughter introduced me to you. Being an old school type person, my bookcase has many hardback copy of your books. When cull times come around, those are exempt.

    Two summers ago we had those nasty tempered ground nesting hornets take up residence in our foundation and the roofline near our bedroom. I got stung sitting in bed watching the late news. Killed it before it could make a second strike. They came in by the dozens and took all summer to get rid of them. I think I would prefer bats to the hornets. My husband’s aunt had a maternity colony one summer. They were able to block entrance into their house until summer ended and the bats headed south for warmer climes. Then their exterior access was sealed and his uncle put up a bat house away from their house.

    The heat this summer has been brutal all over and we are stuck with with all the climate change deniers in D.C. This time of year I am glad we no longer live in west Texas. Of course we pay for it with all the extreme weather come winter in Michigan. Now is the time of year where living in Michigan is best. Making the most of all the fresh produce available from farm stands, markets, and the overflow from afore mentioned aunt and uncle. My gardening attempts are horrific, whether vegetable or flower. Meet the first person ever to have zucchini and summer squash refuse to grow for her.

    Hoping the lessons went well. I do so enjoy your blog posts. The summer flu has jumped the pond and struck family and friends here. It had been brutal on those without the ME complication. May yours quiet down and sleep for months at the very least.
    Hopefully the weather breaks soon and you feel up to hurdling. Heat can be so difficult on the pupsters. I miss my walks with our boy. He can no longer handle long walks, even early morning ones. We now just wander the property and go up and down the long drive next door.

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