A cluster of flies on a sunny afternoon

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

We've had many nightly rituals at our house. In recent years, they have included everything from baths, books and nursing to snacks, pjs and dance-a-thons (don't judge).

Lately though, with all this warm fall weather, our evening ceremonies have expanded to include hunting.

Some folks around here hunt deer - others fire off at ducks. We prefer prey of a smaller sort. And within our walls, we don't use guns - we use bug whackers (and vacuum cleaners).

Things will become perfectly clear once you read below...


Houseflies have become a hot topic of conversation at our house lately. It all began a number of days ago when, after spending the morning away, we arrived home to find a sold out housefly convention taking place in our living room.

The place we are living (a rental while we build new) is a recently constructed log home with large south facing glass. It is here where the flies congregate. I’m not certain but I think our bright and cozy windows have been featured in a recent issue of Housefly Travel magazine.

How else can one explain the sudden pilgrimage?

Once we got over the shock of the buzzing black beasts, we started sucking as many as we could into the in-wall vacuum system, sending them to the sealed container in the basement. But as soon as we put the hose away, more flies appeared. It was a vicious cycle involving many coffee breaks and several expressive expletives (likely far more than necessary).

At last, the mass execution was over.

Where the flies came from is still a mystery as we are really very sanitary people. Really, we are. We bathe, we vacuum, we scrub, we bag and dispose of our garbage and we don’t have any of those designer dogs who poop behind the sofa. You might find a cookie crumb or two on our floor and sometimes the odd Popsicle drip, but other than that – squeaky clean.

Flies on the other hand are dirty. Did you know that they are known to carry more than 100 disease causing germs? There’s a lot more you don’t ever want to learn about “musca domestica”. If you’ve got a cast iron stomach, go ahead and look it up. I guarantee you will regret it.

Then there’s Magnus Muhr, a Swedish photographer who had an idea. It was a disturbing idea, but an idea nonetheless. Magnus collects insect carcasses from windows and lamps around his house and uses them to make comical cartoons. I'm loving these. They make me giggle (and squirm, a little bit).




Who needs realistic fly stickers? You do! That's what Etsy seller chewytulip thinks...

 If I wear this t-shirt designed by Paula Goodman, will the flies think I am their leader?


And finally, Georgia Ryan loves flies and the way they move and look. She says, "This fly is unfortunately deceased, but most of the flies I paint are quite lively." I like this painting because (unlike Georgia), I prefer my flies dead (see Magnus Muhr).



I looked it up and apparently, our house guests are known as "cluster flies". It's true. Here are the details, according to Small Farm Life:
"Not the typical house fly or filth fly, the cluster fly is often found in rural areas on the warm side (south and west) of a building during fall afternoons.  The worst part is, these flies crawl up the side of the building and look for the smallest crack to gain access to warmer environs inside.  Their plan is not to reproduce, but to hibernate. Which would all be well and good until a warmish day when the congregate at the highest window in the home, banging against the glass trying to get out.  It’s not unheard of for hundreds of flies to gather."
Somehow this knowledge makes me feel better. But only slightly.

No, really.

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