For most people, this beautiful warm spring weather is a wonderful opportunity to clean up the yard, get flower beds ready for another glorious year of blooms and plan barbeque get togethers. But for some of us, the arrival of May has another meaning – the invasion of black flies. Every year we are blessed with these pesky little buggers. I don’t know where they come from or where they go after their monthly stay but they certainly cause havoc for the time they are with us. They swarm around your head forming a halo and follow you no matter where you go. You can almost hear them sharpening their knives and forks as they descend on you for a feast of fresh meat.
I have tried many supposedly sure-fire remedies to keep them at bay, none of which have worked. Head net contraptions only encourage them to slip underneath the mesh and leave irritating rows of hive-type bites at the back of your neck. Citronella canasters, smudge pots, bounce sheets, Deep Woods spray and home-made concoctions don’t seem to faze these little demons. The only thing you can do is accept the fact that you have to coexist with these guys for a short period of time. They live their lives the way they want to and then thankfully, they disappear.
But I have another tale regarding black flies. I bet you didn’t realize that they can also be a fire hazard. A few years ago, we required work done on our one-year-old hot tub as it was leaking at the seams. Since it was under warranty, the company was in no big rush to fix the problem. As a result of several missed appointments and many dumb excuses on their part, the weeks dragged on with no solution in sight. However, I was persistent and after many phone calls, the company finally sent three technicians (I use that word loosely) out to assess the problem. By now we were in the thick of black fly season. Three young fellows showed up who obviously wanted to be somewhere else doing something other than hot tub repairs.
Now Nit, Wit and Idiot (the names I christened them with) removed the lid of the tub and put it at the bottom of the hill by the pine trees out of their way so they could examine the leaking tub. The black flies were God awful so their presence did not help to improve the standard of service we were receiving. Chuck, being the nice guy that he is, got out smudge pots to try and keep the black flies away from the workers. Since the incompetent trio did not have the parts necessary to fix the leak, they decided that two of them would leave to get the required supplies. This left one behind guarding the hot tub.
As they were leaving, one of the morons knocked over a smudge pot which went rolling down the hill setting the lid on fire. Now I am not sure if they were unaware of this catastrophe taking place or if they just didn’t care but they did not stop to evaluate the situation. They just went on their merry way. Chuck happened to see the fire and ran over trying to stamp the flames out with his feet. Nit was frozen like a statue, staring in disbelief at what was unfolding before his eyes. “Get the damn garden hose,” yelled Chuck, “before the tree catches fire and spreads to the house.” Still no movement or help from Nit. By sheer luck and the Grace of God, Chuck was able to control and put out the fire. When we asked about replacing the damaged top, we were informed by the company that a new cover would cost $500.00. Well, that didn’t happen. In Leonard Cohen’s words, “They summoned up a thunderstorm. They’re gonna hear from me.” And they sure did!
Upon reflection, I’m beginning to think that maybe we should show some respect for the black fly population. Even though they are unwanted and a nuisance, unlike some species, they aren’t stupid. Black flies arrive when expected, do their job (whatever that is) and leave in a timely fashion. You know where you stand with these guys. They retreat. Summer arrives and people are happy.