Johnny-on-the-Spot … by John Foster …
Coming soon to a month near you!
June is “Fight the Filthy Fly Month”.
By fly, I mean the winged insect.
Not a baseball hit high to the outfield or the space above a theater stage.
Not the late 60’s word for “cool” either, although Curtis Mayfield’s “Superfly” comes to mind.
No, I’m talking about those 6 legged winged creatures.
The common house fly.
I discovered that the average house fly only lives 15-30 days although some can last 2 months under “optimal conditions”.
Flies are notorious disease spreaders and their “dancing” on our food can lead to salmonella or E. coli among the 65 or so diseases they can disperse.
Flies are typically day-timers and they’ll crash in the high grass and leaves for a slumber.
Mama flies can lay up to 500 eggs every few days so despite the fact they don’t live long, they create “families” quickly.
Not let’s get to the really disgusting news about flies.
They lay those eggs in “disgusting” stuff so when they hatch, those “maggots” have something to eat.
Adult house flies have no teeth with which to bite or chew.
So why do they land on your steak?
They basically “vomit” a mix of saliva and stomach acids with digestive proteins to break down their food into a liquid.
Since they’re on a liquid diet, this food passes quickly through their digestive system.
As a result, they usually “defecate” every time they land.
The ingress and egress of fly foodstuffs is pretty quick.
Like butterflies, house flies can taste with their feet.
Think about that the next time you see a fly on something the dog left in the backyard.
But those “tasty” feet also allow them to walk upside down which is a pretty neat trick.
Flies have two foot pads (pulvilli) with tiny hairs on them that secrete a glue-like substance and that allows them to stick where they land…even upside down.
Did you every try to catch a fly?
It’s tough because of their eyes.
Those compound eyes, with tiny lenses (ommatidia) give them a nearly 360 degree field of view.
They can process about 250 images a second.
However, if you’re gonna swat a fly, experts say you need to aim ahead of where you think the fly is going for your best chances.
Remember those disgusting “fly tapes” we used to hand from the ceiling?
And, is there anything nastier around the house than an old fly-swatter?
How may times do you run that through the dishwasher?
Why do flies bug us?
They’re attracted by the carbon dioxide we give off.
They also like oily hair, too.
Flies get spooked by shadows so if that fly swatter casts one, the fly might already be on the move.
House flies don’t like cinnamon, citrus or citronella, cucumber slices or peels, peppermint and marigolds, to name a few.
If you want to take the time, you can make a mixture of equal parts vinegar and dish soap with a dash of sugar.
The flies are attracted by the aroma of the vinegar but the soap kills them.
Now, you’ll have to take my word on this but folks say flies have a bitter-sweet flavor.
There are more than 110,000 species of flies in our world.
That’s a lot to swat.
But, they provide a valuable food source to other insects and animals.
In the “Insect Annoyance Poll”, I think it’s pretty much neck-and-neck between flies and mosquitos and we’re getting into that time of the year when we encounter more of each.
Looks like I need to break out the citronella aftershave this summer.