Tag Archives: flies

More Flies and Willy-Willies

During the long, hot drive the day before (Poor Judgment), we saw something neither of us had ever seen before – whirlwinds.

Dust Devil
Dust Devil (Photo credit: dagnyg)

A whirlwind is a weather phenomenon that can manifest in a major way – a tornado, or a minor way – little vortexes of wind, known as snow devils, steam devils and dust devils or in Australia as willy-willies or whirly-whirlies. We had seen several dust devils which caused my driver to veer violently on the interstate as he was so taken with this caprice of nature.

Now, as Jimmy bent over a locker on the outside of the trailer, rearranging blocks of wood, crank handles, ladders, gloves, hoses and all manner of guy things, a fly devil (The Flies) appeared above his head – a four-foot whirling column of friends

When he walked along the length of the trailer to wind things up and down, his fly devil went with him. It was just the most comical thing – like a cartoon of a dirt boy with his very own gang of flies in formation. I pointed above his head and opened my mouth to speak but thought better of it as I didn’t want to spoil my fun. They didn’t seem to be bothering him.

When we were ready to go, we leapt into the car with a similar gusto as when exiting the trailer. A few flies followed us in so we opened the windows after five minutes on the road and helped them out.

We stopped to admire another train. Yes, we are certifiable.
We stopped to admire another train. Yes, we are certifiable.

Making our first pit stop in Idaho, we opened the doors to discover thousands of the little monsters taking refuge in all the door sills, including the rear tailgate. Some flew in and some flew out but mostly they stayed put so with all five doors open we spent the next half an hour encouraging them out of all the crevices in the car to take flight in their new state.

Looking west toward the Bitterroot Mountains o...
Looking west toward the Bitterroot Mountains over Missoula from Mount Sentinel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We continued to pick, smash and flick for the remainder of the journey. One successful method of departure for them was to assist them along the inside of the windshield, open the window two inches and then watch them be sucked out by the vacuum effect. Some of them have been relocated to the spectacular Bitterroot Range of mountains, (perhaps to pick up the Lewis and Clark Trail) which forms the border between Idaho and Montana. They might find the weather a bit harsh come winter.

When we arrived at our campsite in Missoula, Montana (this sorry tale goes on a bit, be pleased you weren’t with us) we found that, no, the flies hadn’t all been blown away to new pastures along the interstate, but had taken up residence in our trailer – on the windows, on the lights, on the ceiling, walls, curtains, blinds and occasionally on any exposed skin – and we’ve no idea how they got there as all the doors and windows had stayed firmly shut since the morning. If you’re interested, they weren’t bitey things – just small, friendly, and rather slow but hugely numerous flies.

We then started to swat in earnest . . . . for hours and hours. All God’s little creatures, I kept thinking as I squashed fly after fly, but what possible use could they have? Admittedly, all the swallows were quite plump back at the campsite from hell (Poor Judgment), but couldn’t God have just let the swallows eat seeds, skipped these particular flies and saved us the trouble?

As the evening dragged on we tired so took it in turns, one holding a damp sponge acting as the killing machine, and the other pointing and shouting annoyingly, “There’s one! Quick! There’s another one!”

The bed compartment 'upstairs.'
The bed compartment ‘upstairs.’

We attempted to have an early night, both being dog tired from our freight train excitement the night before. As is our habit, we put out all the lights except the reading light over our bed-in-a-drawer, our cozy train-compartment-type arrangement that pulls out from the back of the trailer.

The hide-a-bed from the outside.
The hide-a-bed from the outside.

THWACK! and I was jolted from reading my book as Jimmy squashed a fly on the ceiling over his pillow. I read the same sentence again and SMACK! Jimmy would slap the flies onto the ceiling and then pick them off with his fingernail leaving little fly silhouettes behind.

“It’s no good. I need the sponge,” he said nudging me out of bed whilst showing me his handful of flies.

“I’m getting in the other bed,” I said, having now read the same passage five times still without comprehension. When I put the light on over the other bed, half of the flies dutifully followed me, winging around my face to get a look at my book. “I’m putting my light out,” I blurted tetchily, and pulled the sheet over my head. “Put your light out and go to bed. They won’t bother you then.”


“Put your light out and go to bed.”



He put his light out and went to bed.

Perhaps I should have shown more compassion for the hapless owner of the campsite from hell. I reckon the flies had sent him off his trolley.

Addendum: It has been suggested that the little critters had been migrating and swooped in to visit with us at the lakeside site for just the one night. How lucky was that?

We kept finding the odd dead fly for weeks. After the trauma had worn off, the sight of their little lifeless bodies would raise a fond smile of remembrance.

The Flies

As we continued the long process of leveling and unhitching, plumbing and plugging in, unpacking and tidying up, the aforementioned flies (Poor Judgment) left their shady idyll and came to see what we were doing. We swatted and flicked and didn’t think too much of it until I washed out a few smalls and hung them up. “Oh, look. They’re attracted to pink.” They were also attracted to white and black and glass and wood and chrome and human flesh. They began to set themselves up for the night on the leeward side of the trailer like a sociable Spanish family who will sit beside you on an otherwise empty beach.

Our new friends
Our new friends

It was hot and we were tired so we shut ourselves in for the evening and had an early night. By early night I mean we went to bed, not to sleep. Freight trains plied a steady trade and you could tell even in the dark if they were trundling east or west simply by listening to the whistle.

Not one engine, not two, not three, but . .  oh my. And this is just the front of the train. There were pusher engines as well!
Not one engine, not two, not three, but . . oh my. And this is just the front of the train. There were pusher engines as well!

By 3:oo am I ceased to cat nap between the guess-the-direction-of-the-trains game as the wind had picked up and the awning was flapping and banging its supports. Jimmy had another long drive ahead of him so I left him to doze as best he could while I dashed outside in my nightie to tension the strut on the awning. The flies immediately descended on my bare arms, face and back so I performed a swatting sort of break dance as I pushed the strut, twiddled the knob and hopped back indoors.

Wide awake now I watched daylight begin to seep through the blinds. I opened them and gazed out the window to witness a gorgeous sunrise of violet, orange and pale yellow, as the dazzling orb rose up over the horizon. Examining the golden morning through binoculars I could see clouds of flies swarming in front of the site owner’s house, keeping him company as well.

My first sighting of a yellow-headed blackbird
My first sighting of a yellow-headed blackbird

I watched swallows swooping and feeding their young, nesting in holes of old elm trees. Three vibrant yellow-headed blackbirds paid a visit to feed just outside my window and two pairs of goldfinches appeared. Off in the field I thought I could see rats and squirrels, but with the aid of binoculars I could tell they were prairie dogs, like fat rats, but so cute as they stretched up on tip toe to survey their patch.

You lookin' at me?
You lookin’ at me?

My quiet morning nature watch was interrupted at 5:00 am when the daylight coming through the frosted window on the other side of the trailer appeared spackled with black. Opening the blind, I could hardly see out through the seething mass of flies. Unable to contain myself I ambushed Jimmy, yanking open all the blinds, shrieking, “Look! Look!” as he sat up, blinking.

Note the delightful proximity of the freight train
Note the delightful proximity of the freight train. And the flies, some of which were playing hide and seek by this point.

As yet we were not troubled “indoors” by the flies.

An eight-hour drive towing our unwieldy trailer required an unaccustomed early start so we left for our next campsite well before the noon dismissal. We breakfasted, washed, dressed and battened down the hatches; we picked up keys, water, phones, hats, etc. and braced ourselves by the door. One, two, three, go!

Scuttling out and slamming the door quickly behind us we found one whole side of the trailer and the car black with teeny, tiny flies. The plastic cover on our heavy-duty batteries seemed to have a particular electrical attraction as it was dripping with thick lumps of flies. Neither of us has ever seen anything like it or wish to again.

But it got worse. And more comical.