Battling the Housefly

The enemy


I learn something every day.

Friends and readers know that I have tussled with all manner of critters. There have been the ant invasions, which I have discouraged with apple cider vinegar, sometimes in copious amounts. There was the chipmunk who snuck into the house and commandeered the master bedroom for the night. And who could forget the skunk who got into a fight under the house and died there?

Yesterday’s challenge was a new one — a swarm of houseflies.

I thought I knew all there was to know about flies, the annoying little agents who sneak in through open doors during the warmer months and buzz around, lighting on food or other soft objects.

The usual procedure for dealing with a fly that has wandered onto your turf is a simple one. You follow it patiently with a rolled-up newspaper until it has settled on a hard surface. Then you whack it and escort its carcass into the garbage can.

Not a big deal, I thought.

Now we are staying with dear friends who, like ourselves, were unfamiliar with housefly swarms. Two evenings ago, we were preparing dinner and noticed a couple flies circling the kitchen.

We dispatched the flies in the usual manner.

Then there were two more. Then three more and three more again This continued through the early evening.

By nine p.m. or so, we believed we had vanquished the winged invaders. We relaxed by watching the night’s convention speeches until, stuporous, we fell into deep slumber.


The Return

I rose early the next morning, after our industrious hosts had left for work, and found that a second housefly squadron had occupied the kitchen and family room. I realized that these guys were serious, and so I employed the Significant Other’s technique for dealing with any problem: I consulted the internet.

(I do recommend this solution. I am pretty sure that the Roman empire would not have relocated to Constantinople if one of the Caesars had googled the question “How do I stop Huns from storming the city?” and proceeded from there.)

My search informed me that our housefly swarm was not that unusual. Some of the stories I found were quite alarming. Here’s one:

I live in Texas and with all the rain, the flies are coming into the house. I have three baited fly trap bottles and strips. It seems no matter how many I kill I am still swarmed. I can kill about 100 flies in about 30 mins with a fly swatter, and 30 mins later I am swamped again. Any suggestions?

Eew, I thought. If I were advising that person, I would say, move to a different house.

Fortunately, the swarm in our hosts’ home was MUCH smaller. It appeared to have been caused by a pregnant fly who, on an earlier visit, had deposited 50 to 75 eggs somewhere on the premises. (Don’t ask me where: Our hosts’ home is pristine, actually antiseptic compared to my place.)

Fortunately, my internet search also turned up news I could use.

1. Houseflies are drawn to light. I looked at the big windows in the family room and, sure enough, a number of flies were basking in the sun’s rays.

2. Windex is your friend. A fly sprayed with Windex is a fly that has lost much of its ground and air speed.



From there, it was easy and fun.

I roused the SO and handed him the Windex bottle — all men enjoy target practice, we know — and equipped myself with paper towels. We moved to the sunny windows.

The SO sprayed a lounging fly. I wiped it up. Then he sprayed another and another and another as I followed behind. Within 20 minutes we had dispatched several dozen houseflies.

We ate our breakfast and read the newspaper. Every 20 minutes or so, we returned to the windows and dealt with a couple more flies.

By 9 a.m. we were able to declare victory.

Man, I feel empowered.

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