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Jackie Hope: What’s with all the flies?

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Dickinson, 58602
The Dickinson Press
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Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

They’re on the screens and on the doors, on the walls and on the floors. On your supper, snacks and lunch. Flying solo, or in a bunch. They zip around and can’t be hit. I do not like them, not one bit.

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So, what’s with all the flies? In past summers they never showed up until mid-June or July, sorta like distant cousins who’d drop in, midway through their cross-country summer road trip, looking for a quick meal and a free guest room. And then you’d never see them again until the next summer, or until the return leg of their cross-country road trip. You know the ones. They always turn up at meal time, and never seem to have hotel accommodations.

Well, the flies have dropped in, like a horde of Cousin Eddies from Chevy Chase’s “Vacation” movie series. Cousin Eddie: Randy Quaid on a good ol’ boy roll. Oh, yeah, Randy Quaid is always on a good ol’ boy roll. Anyway, these flies are the size of Boeing 747s and have Cousin Eddie’s appetite paired with Cousin Itt’s table manners. Cousin Itt: a little hairy guy who was Gomez Addams’ cousin and lived in the chimney. Flies: little hairy guys who are gnats’ cousins and live in, uh, live in, um …. Let’s just say they are born into a pile of trouble.

Yeah, we all know where flies come from, because flies have no personal modesty, whatsoever. When the mama and daddy flies love each other very much, they go out to the garbage dump for a honeymoon. And in a day, voila, their brood, of up to 500 fly eggs hatches and becomes maggots. Wiki says about 100 of those eggs will survive. And 90 percent of them are male. Oh, snap, that’s why house flies are so aggressive. If there is only one lady fly for every nine guy flies, there are a lot of young single guys just cruising around looking for trouble. That makes house flies kinda like the Hell’s Angels of the insect class.

Fun fact: the University of Florida says scientists have determined that a pair of flies, who start their family in April, can have 191.01 quintillion babies by August, assuming every egg hatches. That’s about 4 quadrillion times the enrollment of the University of Florida, and 572,000 times the total population of the Earth. Man, that is a whole slew of flies.

Maggots, however, are neither fly nor flies. In fact, it takes them a week to become anything even vaguely resembling an adult fly; and adult flies are not fly, either. Maggots are awkward adolescents, and they are rather blind to their surroundings. They stay inside their garbage piles, with their 450 brothers and 50 sisters, and eat lots of junk food that’s on the floors and ceilings and walls of those garbage piles. And then they go to sleep and metamorphose for a really long time, in fly-years. As long as six days, according to the University of Florida’s website, which is pretty much the same length of time as they have already been alive. So that is like a 12-year-old taking a 10-year nap, and waking up after passing through the teen years. Ooookaaaay. Ain’t gonna make any value judgments whatsoever on that little comparison.

Another delicious factoid: Anthony Bourdain, CNN’s host of “Parts Unknown,” says Americans are some of the few people who do not eat insects. Like grubs and maggots. KFC extra crispy grubs? Maggot McMuffins? No way. Cue the “USA! USA!” chant.

Adult flies live from two weeks to two months, but can live even longer at cooler temperatures.

Thanks, University of Florida scientists, for that thought. So here in North Dakota, the fly who was surfing in the glaze on your Easter ham — “Whoa, duuuude, way to shoot the curl around that ham bone!” — can still be around to help you when you are adding pepper to your Thanksgiving mashed potatoes. Now that’s nothing to sneeze at. Or pooh-pooh at, either.

Last week there was this fly who made Cousin Eddie look like the perfect houseguest in comparison. He strafed the strawberries, cruised the coffee mug and dotted some i’s on the morning newspaper. Then he settled down to making a thorough inspection of the kitchen counters. Not content to be a mere counter weight, he — because there was a 9-to-1 chance the fly was a “he” — sauntered over to the computer and rubbed his hands together in eager anticipation of a fly-over.

You’ve heard about the last straw, the one that broke the camel’s back, right? Well this was the last fly, the one that broke the Hewlett’s Pack…ard. There he sat on the laptop, rubbing his chin and talking fly smack. “Buzz, buzz!” went the fly. “Swoosh!” went the swatter. “Zoom!” went the fly. “*##*!” went the wielder of the flyswatter. And off flew two computer keys, along with the unscathed and chuckling, fly.

Now my computer no longer has a question mark key or a control key. I can live with having to end all my questions with the instruction, “(insert question mark here).” But man, I hate to lose control.

So, again, what’s with all these flies (insert question mark here).

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