When we began talking about moving out to the farm, one of the reasons Jasper was really excited about building a new house was that there were no flies in the upper field. When it was decided that we couldn’t build new and would instead fix up the old house, he mumbled something about having to do something about the flies.
Flies? I had no idea what he was talking about.
I mean, there are flies everywhere. A dog poops, and the flies come. But they’re really not that big of a deal. Keep the screens in the windows and swat ’em if they get inside. Right? What we’re really going to have to do something about is that one and only downstairs bathroom.
Oh, my friends. How little I knew, and know, about old farmhouses.
We went out there yesterday, in the brilliant glow of a sunny late September day, to measure where the new windows would go. One of the first things I noticed was the low drone of buzzing in the air.
There is a large, 30-year-old honeybee nest in the south wall of the house, so at first I thought that’s where the buzzing was coming from. But it was not. The buzzing was coming from the house – the whole house.
Each and every window was vibrating from the hundreds (thousands?) of flies battering against the glass. They crawled thickly over the exterior of the house, looking for ways to get in and join the thrumming mass inside. When we ventured inside, the sound increased – the buzzing, the light tinging of tiny bodies against glass, the scratching of insect claws against hollow wood. My skin crawled.
“These used to drive my mom crazy,” Jasper said almost nonchalantly. I looked at him and then at the swarming masses. My throat started to constrict and I started to sweat.
“I have to get out of here,” I told him.
We didn’t measure a single window.
Cluster flies. I grew up in an old house, but we never had fly problems. Sometimes we’d get a couple circling in the middle of the kitchen if someone left the door open, but then my dad would come to the rescue with the swatter, or a cat would get it. I didn’t even know cluster flies were a thing.
Well, are they ever a thing.
Cluster flies do exactly what their name suggests: they cluster. Preferably on sunny walls and windows, and inside attics (or drafty farmhouses) where they can live out the winter in relative warmth. These flies also emit a very powerful pheromone, which draws other cluster flies to them and which only exacerbates the problem. The good news is that they don’t reproduce inside, but lay their eggs in soil rich with earthworms, which their larvae will enter and eat when their hatch.
Hopefully, by putting new siding, windows, doors, insulation, floors and drywall in, we can keep the flies out. I don’t know how we’ll eradicate them from the garden without using insecticides, but dear lord, I hope we figure out a way.
Otherwise, they will drive me crazy, too. Leave-The-House, Give-Up-The-Dream crazy.