Autumn is my favorite time of year. I love the cooler weather, getting to wear sweaters, watching the leaves turn, and all the pumpkin spice stuff. (Yes. I’m one of THOSE people.) But, as much as I love it, this season has its drawbacks. Well, one drawback, but it’s a big one.
Every September, they get thick in these parts and my trusty swatter sees extensive use over a couple of weeks, to keep the suckers at bay, but this year was a whole other story. I chronicled it in an email to my mom, which I share with you here:
So, yesterday, I had to drive Ellen and Calvin to and from work and of course they were each scheduled to arrive and leave at separate times, and in too short a span to bother going home in between, so I spent a few hours in town…with not even enough time to wander the aisles and window shop between my chauffeur duties. Instead, I just shuttled between my kids’ two fast food establishments, gorging on junk. I bought a full meal from one place and a good sized milkshake from the other. I am going to weigh 400 lbs if this keeps up. Meanwhile, Julio spent the day at home working in the garden, then running 12 miles. This means the other kids basically had to fend for themselves all day long and did and ate who knows what. Also, because the temperatures dropped significantly over the past few days, it’s been very nice outside and Julio decided to air out the house. He opened up Calvin’s bedroom windows (both of which have no screens in them) and I came home to a HORDE of flies all over the ceilings and walls in every room (except mine and the little kids’ rooms—those doors were shut, thank goodness!) ‘Tis the season for flies and they are usually pretty bad around here, but never before beyond the use of a good swatter over a few days. But this—?
This was FLYMAGGEDON. The buggers were EVERYWHERE, ceilings, walls, door frames! Ellen even commented on it when we got home, deadpanning, “Someone needs to tell Pharaoh to let our people go.”
Julio had texted me while I was still in town, to please pick up some fly strips. I have NEVER, NEVER needed to use those disgusting things—but I have friends who have—and I gotta say, it is a revolting sight, seeing eighteen inches of mucous colored, glue-y ribbon dangling from the ceiling and dotted with frantically buzzing sky raisins. When Julio asked me to get these and I asked why—the picture he sent made me throw up a little in my mouth. I can’t even pull it up on my phone without wanting to hurl, so I’ll spare you the image. You’re welcome.
I got the fly strips and we decorated like it was an entomological version of Christmas. We hung approximately 17 of the things JUST on the main floor, while flies buzzed in our faces and bopped against our pinched mouths and tried into our noses and ears. I was forcibly reminded of Hitchock’s film The Birds. Have you ever screamed with your mouth shut? Within five minutes of the fly strips going up, and much waving of brooms and towels to flush the flies off the ceiling and towards their sticky doom, the fly ribbons were COVERED with flies. The buzz of the collective fly terror was unnerving, like stumbling upon a rattlesnake. Calvin’s room was by far the worst hit last night, followed by bathroom, and then Ellen’s room . Both kids fled to the library to sleep that night—the only other room to survive the onslaught of pestilence and plague.
When I got up for church this morning, the fly strips were so full of flies your could barely see the eleventy million ribbons we’d put up. It was gross. So gross. But also grimly satisfying. Flies aren’t our bullies. No, ma’am.
My gloating didn’t last long, however. The intelligent flies, having seen their fellows succumb to the La Brea glue strips, had made their way downstairs to the kitchen. It was World War Fly down there. And, of course—the designated dish-doer children hadn’t done their dishes at any point during the previous 24 hours, so the flies were partying like spring break in Cancun. Crawling on the ceiling and walls, plinking against the window panes, dive bombing us as we walked past the pantry, whirring up in cyclones from the sink full of dirty dishes.
What Gary Larson’s The Far Side horror show WAS this?!
No one ate breakfast, because no one had the stomach for it. We went to church, wherein we had the Primary program, and I could only sit up there in the choir seats with my Primary kids thinking how narsty my kitchen was and how we are all probably going to contract some fly-borne illness and spend three weeks taking turns puking our guts out. Then, Julio texts me that the home teachers are planning to come over at 7:00 pm. Now I’m thinking about bacterial infections and all the flies still buzzing cockily around like they own the place, and I just couldn’t do it. I imagined the home teachers trying to give a spiritual message while also being carried off by millions of Musca Domestica, and I nearly lost it. I texted Julio back during the final verse of I’m Trying to Be Like Jesus, with “Hell. No. Cancel. Unless the home teachers know how to exorcise these demons or otherwise strike them down in Biblical fashion, THEY SHALL NOT CROSS MY THRESHOLD TODAY.”
Following the Primary program, I had to then go teach my Sunday School class and then sit through Sharing Time. Between dealing with the big kids’ car wreck and the flies this week, I hadn’t even bothered to look at the lesson for the day. I ran to the church library, grabbed a bunch of colored paper, glue sticks, and scissors and threw them at my class. “I will read today’s lesson to you while you make paper airplanes and glue your fingers together. This is so fun.” I forgot my lesson manual in my haste to get out of my infested house and to the Primary program on time, so picked a lesson at random from my phone. Midway through reading about God creating the animals and saw they were good, I received a text from Julio saying “Went to buy more fly strips. See you at home.”
When church was over, I corralled our kids, who claimed to be starving and wanted to know what was for lunch. I said I didn’t know, because the flies had probably mutated into giant super bugs, bent on world domination and were using the kitchen as their headquarters. I was right. Julio had already put up yet another bazillion fly strips—but these were the smart flies—the cunning, wily ones who knew enough to lie low and wait for their weaker comrades to clear a path for them through the labyrinth of gummy streamers. The kids and I spent a good hour battling flies with swatters and waving them with the broom off the ceiling towards the sticky strips. Hydra like, for every fly I killed, ten more replaced it. We were smashing flies so fast there wasn’t really time to wipe up fly guts off the wall or avoid crunching their crushed bodies under our feet.
I made the mistake of taking my shoes off, so every time I felt one crunch underfoot, I shrieked like I was being murdered–making the kids jump and shriek like they, too, were being murdered. Tensions were high. And we were squicked out beyond measure. Undaunted, we went Mel Gibson in Braveheart on them. You have never seen such carnage as we did. Finally, we had done all we could—the remaining flies were hovering about the ceiling, and the floor was COVERED in crunchy black specks. The walls were covered in swipes of juicy bug guts. Calvin, ever stoic about taking on the dirtiest of jobs, got so heebie jeebied sweeping up fly carcasses that he had to quit and go outside to dry heave. Gloria staunchly picked up where he left off. I started scrubbing down walls, cabinets, and counters with hot water and soap, trying to rid my kitchen of the evidence of a full scale fly massacre. I went to check on Calvin, who remarked on how bug free the out of doors was, and that if he could stay outside, he might be able to eat. And by the way, what is for lunch?
Mother, I have sinned. I ordered Dominoes pizza on the Sabbath. Julio and I went to go pick it up, stopping first at the local farm store to see about a more effective way to kill the second wave of flies that were already taking over upstairs. I remembered a friend of mine who had grown up on a dairy farm tell me once that every year when the flies got super bad, her mother would not only bug bomb the barns, but the house. Well. I wish I’d remembered that sooner. It was time to go nuclear. We brought our industrial dairy sized canister of insecticide home along with the pizzas. We ate outside in the yard, planning our attack. We had to move the pets to an area of the house that wouldn’t take any direct spray from the fogger, so holed them up in the safe rooms, with excellent (screened!) ventilation. Calvin decided that, as bad as his room was, he wasn’t sure he wanted it doused in insecticide and decided to start sucking up live flies into the canister vacuum. I reminded him that this didn’t kill the flies, only gave them a quick ride and a nice, cozy place to cuddle until we opened the vacuum to replace the bag. I fogged his room. Then I fogged the vacuum. The kid bathroom and Ellen’s room were next. I may have gone a little overboard, because two hours later, both Blythe and Ellen told me that when they went upstairs to check the bathroom, their eyes started stinging. So. Looks like we will be airing those rooms (with SCREENS IN THE WINDOWS, JULIO!!!!) and washing bed linens and clothes before moving the kids back in.
Our dwelling is now back to a normal autumnal level of house fly bother. Tomorrow, I will take down the umpteen fly strips and dispose of them—maybe even burn them—because I read a thing on the internet that said flies will breed on top of dead flies and their maggots will feed on the dead fly carcasses. I’m screaming with my mouth shut again.
What’s new with you?