The Great Housefly Massacre

House Fly Drenched in Water VaporHere in Northern California, it has been very hot the last couple of weeks. And with the heat has come the houseflies. Normally, I don’t notice them and I don’t really care. As long as there is not one buzzing past me and distracting me, what’s the big deal? But yesterday, I came into the kitchen and behind the blinds on the front window were a group of at least a dozen flies. I grabbed the fly swatter and went on a killing spree. It was terrible. It was like if the United States went to war with with Ghana.

I’m not proud of this. In fact, I feel very bad. The flies weren’t doing anything. They weren’t bugging me. They were just hanging out. But I don’t like flies. When seen outside, they are usually standing on a pile of dog feces, enjoying a banquet. I know: it’s the circle of life and every creature is special. But I can’t help but think that every time they land on me, they they are tracking feces all over me.

And this isn’t just some kind of germophobic fantasy of mine. Houseflies are known to transmit over a hundred diseases, including tuberculosis and cholera. And it isn’t as though we don’t have enough of them. They are everywhere. We now have confirmation that they’ve made it to Antarctica. So there is no reason to morn for the houseflies I destroyed yesterday.

Just the same: why? I mean, what’s the big deal? They were out of the way. There were none flying around my head. In fact, I had to lift the blinds to get at them. And it always makes me think that if some advanced civilization discovered earth, they would probably kill all of us humans with as little regard. And I could hardly blame them, because we are far more annoying than houseflies.

And then I think of the Jains and how they won’t even hurt a root vegetable. Meanwhile, I can’t live in peace with a dozen houseflies living in my window seal. What kind of a monster am I?!

1 thought on “The Great Housefly Massacre

  1. I’ve always made a quiet prayer to any housebugs in any home I’ve ever lived in: “if I don’t have to see you, I don’t have to squish you.” This prayer is as effective as most prayers: it makes me feel better having said it.

    The vast majority of bugs, we don’t see. They go about their business and we do ours. Flies, though, have an irritating noise. Plus they will land on your face and food. Nor can you stop them from doing so. A rabbit might eat part of your garden, but it’ll be quiet at it, and it’s highly unlikely to run into your home. (They can, though, unexpectedly show up dead, at which point you have a rabbit corpse you can’t just throw in the weeds like a dead mouse; you triple-bag that bunny and it will still involve you washing your outdoors trash can with bleach and a hose.)

    Roaches, centipedes, wasps, that’s what Raid is for. But Raid smells so, so bad (this is why it’s an extremely effective poison; it’s instant death in a can). Spiders, I generally try to steer onto a piece of paper and shake them outside, where other creatures can kill them. If they won’t climb onto the paper, then fuck it; I asked them nicely. You guys bite me if I roll over in my sleep, out of sheer terror; if I want to scoot you outside but you won’t comply, I am forced to use violence.

    Houseflies bring out my inner analog nerd. Sure, there’s Raid — but there’s also a flyswatter. Or a rolled-up newspaper. The trick with flies is always in the slow, slow approach. When you get one, you feel a sense of accomplishment. Even if your first swat didn’t kill it, only stunned/possibly maimed it, and it took the second swat to truly squirt fly glop onto your swatter. “I got you, fly!” This lets the other flies know, “I ain’t fucking around, I mean business.” For some reason, the other flies don’t seem to be intimidated by this.

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