Friday, 16 October 2009

Pests - Musca Autumnalis

We are fortunate to live in a country village in Dorset where the skies are very dark at night and you can actually see the Milky Way.  But there are certain disadvantages, one of the most irritating being that every Autumn, round about September cluster flies (sometimes know as loft flies) enter our loft.  The swarm is preceded by 'scout flies' which find the suitable accommodation. They then alert the main swarm, which creeps under the roof felt and hibernates for the winter. The flies that do not hibernate die and hundreds of their little bodies are strewn about the loft. In spring the remainder buzz off and spend the summer in the fields.

Our loft is boarded and has a couple of velux windows let into the roof to provide light. We use the loft for storage of things like books, but we soon found that unless these are covered with a plastic sheet, they will get contaminated by the flies. 

In the early days I found a neat way of persuading the flies to go elsewhere. I used to buy two Vapona insecticides and hang them in the loft in late August.  When it came to hiberate, the scouts would take one sniff and go elsewhere. 

Then came 1997 and New Labour and the Nanny state. It was decided that products like Vapona might (only might) be injurious to health. So they were taken off the shelves and my problems returned.

The only way to curb the flies is by constant spraying using other types of fly spray, which are probably far more injurious to my health.

Although they look like house flies, they are not and apart from their nuisance value they don't have house flies' disgusting habits. But it is not as if I could leave them be. They are very sensitive to light and their latest trick is to crawl through the holes in the ceiling plaster that need to be made to run cables for the ceiling light. This way they can get into the bedrooms.

A few nights ago, I was reading in bed when there was a loud buzzing and a fly appeared seemingly from nowhere. A few minutes later, more buzzing and another fly appeared. soon about six were buzzing round the room like a squadron of Messerschmidts. And this was 12 o'clock at night. I managed to locate some PTFE tape and wound a strip round the hole in the ceiling rose and stopped any more getting in. Then getting to work with the fly spray I dispatched the others. Luckily I had a fly spray which was odourless.  So I went to sleep to the sound of dying flies, emitting a noise as if their main engines had taken a hit and were stuttering into silence.

I told this story to a colleague. 'Only six flies?' he said. 'Last night my wife and I were sitting quietly in our lounge and up to 17 of those little devils appeared buzzing furiously'. He didn't tell me how he got rid of them. Perhaps he and his wife retreated to bed.

Thank you Tony Blair and your busybody cohorts. Unfortunately if the Tories get back, I can't imagine that they will be able to redress all the petty regulations that make life more irritating and provide so much employment to the army of anally retentive jobsworths that now pervade this country.

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