The Flies of Autumn

Below are some photos, possibly the first ever taken, of a fly with its head stuck in the tiny grid of flywire, taken at our back door yesterday, but first a lengthy preamble…

Autumn is one of my four favourite seasons in Canberra, and this autumn has been a standout, exhibiting a steady tendency towards lower (and more comfortable) temperatures with a seemingly uninterrupted series of cool nights opening to warm, sunny days played with gentle breezes.


The only drawbacks are the worrying lack of dam-replenishing rains and the house flies which seem to be having a bumper year. Our house has poor defences against insects and has recently been infested with a flock of irritating but otherwise harmless flies, vomiting and ingesting on every surface and occasionally driving one to distraction.

Their main crime is the annoying tendency to land on your face just as you’ve drifted into a cherished afternoon nap. It is impossible to sleep with a fly crawling on your lips and so, with regret, I have added house flies, when in my house, to the short list of small creatures that I will regretfully kill.

Thus you will find me several times a day leaping around the kitchen with a fly swat, killing twenty or thirty flies in a campaign. I am merciful however. If the flies are near the back door, I will attempt to shoo them out. Herding cats is nothing compared to herding flies, however. This is the fly’s other great fault and the crux of their downfall. If they were easier to guide outside, like blowflys that will follow light, I’d happily assume the role of house flyherd.

But no. Only those flies that are sitting on the inside of the flyscreen can be removed, the screen being swung open and some deft switches with the swat sending them blundering off into the day.

That’s what I was attempting to do just on dusk last night with a couple of flies that were malingering on the screen as I was shutting the back door. I had no swat, so I flapped my hand at them, sending one scurrying off. The other one remained on the screen and was entirely resistant to any suggestion of moving elsewhere. Closer examination revealed he had a bit of a problem.

Fly with head stuck in wire screen

His little head had got stuck. I’m not sure if I propelled him into the wire or not, but stuck he had become, and as he struggled vainly to remove himself, I couldn’t help feeling sorry for the little bugger.

Fly with head stuck in flyscreen

The photo above shows his little fly eyes bulging sadly in their little prison. He stayed there for about an hour, till I could show Sharkie, who then gently released him, apparently unscathed, whereupon he flew back into the house to suffer a worse fate another day.

Comments are closed.