Cluster Flies

If you live in the city, chances are you never even heard of cluster flies. But if you live in the sticks, well, they’re just part of your life.
cluster flies

For reasons that are beyond me, cluster flies have window preferences. In my house, they really like my bedroom window best of all. It faces east, but so do my dining room windows, so it’s not that. This isn’t a particularly bad day for cluster flies, it’s a light-average sort of day.

If you don’t know them, cluster flies aren’t like regular house flies. They are about the same size, but cluster flies are STUPID!! They’re likely to fall in your hair or your cereal bowl, and once there, they can’t figure out how to get out, like you’d eat the rest of that cereal anyway. They’re slow moving and slow witted. That does make them easy to kill, leaving you with little dead, black bodies.

I used to think that cluster flies only lived in old houses, but not so – they’ll inhabit brand new ones, too. I’ve heard it said by those in the know that if you live where there used to be farm animals, you’ll have cluster flies. Period.

Now, you can have the outside foundation of your house professionally sprayed with some kind of chemical to kill them (they mostly live in the ground, but I swear some live under my clapboard or in the walls). But I figure that if that spray will kill the cluster flies, it’s probably not doing other living things any favors, either.

You can vacuum them up, but trust me when I tell you that when you empty that canister or trash that bag, you’ll have flies, dirty and dusty but alive, crawling around.

My favorite thing to do is to open the window, take the screen out, and push them out into the cold. I know that most of them probably crawl back into their little homes and then come back into my bedroom, but it gives me some small amount of pleasure anyway. And if it’s nice and warm in the house and really cold outside, I snicker while I’m doing it.

Cluster flies hang around for a few weeks in the spring and the fall, and then they disappear. I figure they must make protein-rich meals for the early bird arrivers and late leavers, and probably for other creatures, too. So I’ve just learned to deal with it.

Learning to handle cluster flies was one thing, but a few years ago they decided to invite along their friends, the fake ladybugs. Real ladybugs are swell – cute, red, and very helpful to the garden. The fake ladybugs, on the other hand (actually they’re Asian lady beetles) are nasty. They smell bad if crushed, bite you, and their orange color isn’t nearly as attractive. And god forbid they land on the top of your sports bottle and you take a swig without looking – they taste TERRIBLE!!! If you vacuum up these babies, they will ultimately ruin your vacuum cleaner, rendering it unusable because their smell will have permeated it and will be spread through the air when you next vacuum. In fact, a friend of mine is very sensitive to their odor, and it causes him to have coughing fits if he has to clean them up.

So although I love living where I do, surrounded by woods, barred owls, fox, birds, and the occasional bear, country life does have its drawbacks. For me, I’ll take the cluster flies over the noise & air pollution of city living any day.

Your turn: what’s a pest at your house that you’ve learned to live with?

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