Thursday, May 26, 2011

Let us speak of blackflies.

Before I moved to Maine, blackflies, like scorpions and great white sharks, were merely a rumor. After nearly two decades of May, I now know better.

If you do not have blackflies in your neighborhood, you may be unaware of their habits. I will enlighten you. Blackflies are small creatures, about the size of those midges that go up your nose in late August. Unlike mosquitoes, which are surgically precise in their bloodletting, blackflies have mouths like chainsaws. Their favorite foods are roofers, toddlers in sandboxes, fans at middle-school baseball games, and crabby people who are planting beans. They will chew up any available part of these unfortunate bodies but are particularly fond of faces and the backs of ears. Signs that you have been bitten by a blackfly: crusty streams of blood and swollen eyelids. These symptoms are most likely to appear just before proms, poetry readings, graduation parties, and the visits of nervous grandparents from regions without blackflies.

One odd feature of blackflies is that they bite only in the open air. Any fly that accompanies you into your house immediately becomes disoriented and spends the rest of her life walking up and down a windowpane until the dog licks her up.

A blackfly's favorite weather is your favorite weather. Say, it's been 40 degrees and raining for 2 weeks. Then, suddenly, the sun emerges and the temperature rises to a delightful 70 degrees. Both you and the blackfly rush into the yard, eager to catch up on spring business. The blackfly's approach to business is lusty and sociable, and you soon find yourself indifferent to thinning radishes or raking gravel out of the lawn.

Yet even a blackfly's enthusiasm can wane. As soon as the heat increases to torpid summer, she shrivels and fades. At this point, the lurking deerfly becomes ascendent. That, however, is a tale for another day.

5 comments:

Julia Munroe Martin said...

As a firm blackfly hater (who isn't), I have to say I never before thought I could laugh about them, but you made that possible!!

Love this: "Both you and the blackfly rush into the yard, eager to catch up on spring business."

Very funny and so very very true, all of it! Thanks for a fun read this morning!

Dawn Potter said...

COMMENT FROM DAVID:


"And the black fly, the little black fly, / Always the blackfly no matter where you go; / I'll die with the blackfly picking my bones / In north On-tar-eye-o eye-o, / North On-tar-eye-o!"

- chorus, Canadian folk song

(AND, YES, HE IS CANADIAN.)

jen revved said...

Brava-- you might have done stand-up in another life. I loved Any fly that accompanies you into your house immediately becomes disoriented and spends the rest of her life walking up and down a windowpane until the dog licks her up.

That you said "she" made me laugh. She-fly, shoefly. Thanks so much for your encouragement on FB today- btw captcha word is "jigho"-- ???-xxj

Dawn Potter said...

Jig-ho? Good lord.

These capcha things are a secret message from somewhere.

Ruth said...

They love campers too and especially teachers who are brave(?) enought to take their whole class camping for a week.