Blackflies, the Blood sucking Pestilence

What Pestilence is Next?  Blackflies are ALMOST over.


black fliesOkay, so June in Newfoundland, far from being the first month of summer fun, is actually the month of the blood-sucking season of  pestilence known as Blackflies.

Most of us natives are used to the buggers, which are almost as small as sand flies, ( known to some of the locals as “no-see-ums,”) but are black in color as opposed to beige. Blackflies  have these dreadful bitey parts up around their mouths which they slice you open with and they create blood pools which they lap up like Kool Aid!  Considering one female can produce 100 eggs, I refuse to let them have ANY of my blood to breed, so when spending time out of doors during “Blackfly season” you will see me swiping the air around my head and smacking myself all over like a crazy woman!  I even have one of those “bug hats” which has mosquito netting   right down over the brim, and elastic which seals tightly around your neck.  You can actually get jackets and pants as well that fully protect you head to toe from the annoying dive bombers. I have recently seen in the Canadian Tire Catalogue, individual bug shelters that you can zip yourself into to thwart their attempts to swarm you!  Brilliant!!!

Some people resort to insect repellants to keep the buggers at bay.  They say that those containing high concentrations of DEET are best, although some people say that it only attracts blackflies. Last weekend, we made the hike out over the TCH to our summer cabin in Port Blandford.  Knowing what to expect, I had armed myself with Deep Woods Off, Avon Skin-so-soft, a dozen buckets of citronella candles, and a  half dozen of these new Off fan gizmos which are supposed to form a zone of protection around you, so the flies wouldn’t even be interested.   I warily made my way out to the verandah, and offered some of my arsonal to my 91 year old mother-in-law, who was slung off in the rocking chair with her pants legs rolled up and her short sleeved top on, all set to take in a few rays and get rid of the winter pallor. “No,” she told me, when I aimed the Deep Woods Off at her, “The flies never bother me.”  “Okay”, says I, thinking like Elmer Fudd of Looneytunes, “But you’ll be sowwy!”

After about fifteen minutes of exposure, I had to come in out of it.  The worst part about blackflies is they have to run up and down your arm, or crawl across the back of your neck or under your pantleg and up your leg before they’ll bite you, and all you can feel is the creepy crawly feeling of hundreds of those little legs crawling all over you, in your hair and everywhere!  I’m sure they are particularly fond of diabetics as we have a higher concentration of sugar in our blood, and are a particular treat.  My husband can work in the outdoor for hours and hardly even gets a bite.  The first year we bought the cabin I got a multitude of bites, two of which on my leg got infected and took nearly a whole year to heal!  I’m not risking that anymore!!

So in the cabin I goes, where I know the mosquito screen on the windows and doors will keep me safe, leaving the mother-in-law to her fate. ” You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink,” I thought.

An hour or so later, I woke up from a very refreshing afternoon nap, and decided to once again brave the verandah to see what progress the hubby had made and to check on the mother-in-law.  What met my eyes had me believing that there was such a thing as polyjuice potion as J.K.Rollings wrote about in the Harry Potter books.  She was still sitting in the rocking chair, scratching herself all over, while her face looked like she was sporting some kind of crazy tattoo, with countless red marks from the stinging insects.  her eyes were swollen, and some of the bites must have been right on veins, because red marks had formed all over one side of her face, almost like a  bunch of birthmarks. To say she was a state is an understatement!  I ran for the afterbite, for the polysporin, and for the benadryl, but all she said was, “What are you fussing so much for, it’s only a few fly bites.”  Meanwhile I feared I would be pulled over at the overpass to St. John’s and charged for elder abuse!

Oh my, I guess the lesson to be learned was to not trust the mother in law when she says she doesn’t need insect repellent.  She learned her lesson because she didn’t venture outside the front door this weekend past.  Luckily, the swelling went down within a few days and the marks faded away.  Luckily she wasn’t allergic to the anti-coagulant serum the blackfly injects into his victim to keep the blood running freely into their little vampire bodies.

Now that it’s almost July, most of the blackflies have buggered off for this year.  Next we have to gird our loins for the Deer Flies (the locals call them Stouts) which are the most annoying of all the biting insect species in Newfoundland, anyway.  These guys are about the size of a house fly and will buzz around you until you want to spray them with raid, then will land somewhere where you can’t see them, like on your back, or the back of your thigh.  I swear the bastards will take a bite out of you, then fly up in a tree and eat it.  I have seen my father in his youth run down through the marsh next to our cabin in Makinsons and not stop till he hit the pond.  He’d then dive underwater and stay there, holding his breath, watching the damned stouts circling over the water until they gave up on him and flew on to their next victim!

Paul has put up a massive electric bug zapper on the verandah now.  It’s like the death star to all flying pestilence, glowing in all of it’s blue glory, luring all flying pestilence to meet their maker.  We have also put up bat houses and planted flowers to attract dragon flies, and any other creatures that feed on the bastardly pests.  Only for it would kill all my bird friends who keep hubby busy and entertained re-filling the feeders, I’d search out the formula on Google and mix up a batch of DDT in the shed!

I wonder why the good lord in all his wisdom had to think up FLIES! Some things we could do without!

bug spray mom



spraying bugsbug suit



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