This week, as a part of my post on surviving black fly season here in Maine, I asked my husband to be a guest blogger again, as he is the one who is highly allergic to black flies. I wanted to share his perspective. Well, share he did! Here’s a humorous take on an annual event that is just not funny at all. I hope you enjoy. I’m sure this is going to make you laugh out loud!
It is currently pest season in Maine, specifically, Black Fly season. Yes, the little, kamikaze bastards deserve the capitalization respect. If I had but one word to describe them, it would be tenacious.
Those little airborne pugilists are fearless and belligerent. They will buzz into your ear and instantly make you slap it—multiple times. And then, just as soon as you stop flailing and drop your hand away from your ear—assuming, after the ferocious beating you just put on it, your ear would be the last place a black fly would be found—ZZZAM! That same Fly is back, and the same banged-up ear gets another quick beating. Yes, tenacious.
They come in swarms. You can see them when they slow down and drop from the cloud to try for an opening. Some appear heavy, almost ponderous for such tiny creatures; they swing back and forth like little boxers looking for a jab. Others are smaller—more like fruit flies. These seem to go for the eyes. Whether purposeful or not, they end up occluding the ocular pathway far too often.
Mowing the grass, for example, is a lot like a slow motion motorcycle ride sans glasses through early-evening farm country. Squint judiciously. You cannot breathe through your mouth—never over-exert. The harder you breathe, the greater the chance of sucking a fly down your esophagus or maybe into a lung. Black Flies are tough; who knows how long one might live in a lung. Stuff of nightmares, right—a tickle, a cough, a week later a cloud of Black Flies erupts from your mouth and swarms you. Well, that might require two Black Flies.
I think the eyes might be the worst. You can see them bouncing, as I previously described, and then, like little stealth fighters, they’re gone and—aaagghh, right in the eye! You go at your eye as quickly as you did your ear, but it is too late. That little fighter is drowning in eye nectar. Or you don’t see them at all and—aaagghh, right in the eye! Occasionally, you can track one in and know it’s going to be an eye shot but not be able to react in time to avoid it and—aaagghh, right in the eye! I hate “aaagghh, right in the eye.”
All contingencies involving fly in the eye are bad. That kind of reads like the beginning of a lesson on deductive reasoning. If all contingencies involving fly in the eye are bad, then every time someone gets a Black Fly in their eye, it will be bad; therefore, if you get a Black Fly in your eye, you are going to hate it—every damn time.
They hit and the impact leaves a moon-crater dry spot on your eyeball; it feels like all the fluid at the point of collision is gone. I do not know what they do after they hit other than become a soggy, squishy ball with wings and other appendages. What I do know is there is something unnerving about having a mash-up of wings and appendages in your eye. And you go at it again cursing and clawing frantically. Sometimes you’re able to dig them out, and sometimes the tenacious buggers actually fly themselves out.
The worst is when they manage to work themselves up under your eyelid; that is misery and panic all rolled into one. There’s nothing for it then but to hope the contact-wearing people in your family are not out of eye wash. If you happen to be moving to Black Fly country somewhere, and all members of your immediate tribe are twenty-twenty, I suggest buying a bottle of eye rinse. Have it ready before you take Mom out to eat in May and keep it around until well after Dad charcoals the ribs on the grill.
And there it is. Your ear is ringing; one eye is blurry; you’ve attempted to exchange Black Flies for oxygen, but you still have not been bitten. It’s been one pass around the yard with the mower. You know the bites are coming.
They are sharp, and they are irritating. They are the kind of bites that make you start, make you feel vindictive—murderous even. They are the kind of bites you take personally. A mosquito bite elicits the same response every time. You slap at that sucker, and either you get annoyed when you miss or you get a bloodspot. But a Black Fly bite is an entirely different thing. A Black Fly bite has the potential to make you hard flinch and say, “F!—Ouch!” and “WTF?” almost simultaneously.
The cloud descends, and while you are choking, slapping, and clawing at your ears and eyes, two or three get through. It’s too late when you feel the sting. A small gash has been sliced into your skin. Yes, sliced.
Female Black Flies have scissor-like mouth parts that grip and cut. Their saliva acts as an anticoagulant and anesthetic, which gives them plenty of time to carve out that pool of blood. It can also cause a strong, allergic reaction. I’ve had bites swell into knots the size of my thumbnail and itch like fiberglass underwear for well over two weeks. But congratulations, her eggs will be laid because of you; you’ve done your part to help ensure the continuation of the species.
And the males? Apparently, the males prefer nectar; they have no interest in humans. Party on dudes. Your women are out for blood.