Fishflies: Dracula’s Castle or Hallowe’en in July

16 Jul
Fishflies and Cobwebs, just a sample framing the house

Fishflies and Cobwebs, just a sample framing the house

It’s that time of year again. Fishfly season. The time when spider webs and hordes of fishflies combine to create effects right out of horror movies, thus the Dracula’s castle effect. Cobweb/fishfly patrol and clearing becomes a daily routine, especially when company is coming. The pests come once every year – the flies that is, not the company –  and last for a week or two. They used to come earlier in early July but lately have been coming more mid-month. They are a pest. They are quite stupid but they are still a pest. Some local wags like to scare visitors calling them Manitoba mosquitoes. Surprisingly quite sophisticated people actually believe this. It doesn’t really help Manitoba’s mosquito-plague image though. Technically the bugs are harmless but keep reading for what they do to the mind.

They arise from the lake in swarms and cling to anything that is vertical. That includes walls, windows, doors, trees, blades of grass and people. Anything outside on the deck is uncomfortable. Mowing is impossible since they rise like one of the biblical plagues, in brown swarms, clinging to anything, including yours truly. One of their favourite tricks is to fly between my glasses and my eyes and to stay there, flapping their wings, and twitching their bodies and ovipositors. Eventually, in about a second my sight is gone. Mowing stops to clean my glasses. I then start the mower, resume mowing, two seconds later eyeballs coated with fishflies, stop mowing. Repeat until I realise how foolish this stop-start process is and call it a day. Stupid fishflies have won this round! Stupid me sometimes takes an hour to realise the exercise in futility. I don’t think this is my fault though. I think the flies transfer some of their stupidity to me by some magical or chemical process.

Fishflyus Nuisanscus quazillionus

Fishflyus Nuisanscus quazillionus

They get everywhere inside the house usually piggy-backing one one’s clothes if one is foolish enough to go outside. Months later we will find their corpses in closets, drawers, bookshelves. Cleaning them is tricky. If they are fresh and alive they make a thick, black, greasy, smear when wiped up. The smear is semi-permanent. The buggers also moult leaving dessicated shells hanging on everything. When they die one understands why they are called “fish”-flies. They stink like dead fish, adding a coastal, nasal hum to the atmosphere.

This year is not considered a “bad” year. No need to shovel them off the sidewalks and out of the doorways. Their numbers are considered a sign of a healthy lake. Hmmm. I’m getting mixed feelings about cleaning up the lake.


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