The common housefly brings a whole new meaning to the term “travel bug”. When people speak affectionately about having “caught the travel bug”, they’re not speaking about snaring insects, but about the desire to travel and explore the world that spreads like a virus within their soul, and that nothing, save an expedition to an unexplored destination, can cure.

Unfortunately, the conventional housefly also loves to travel and has been found in all its irritating and germ-infested glory in various countries of the world. It loves to procreate, too, and just when you think you have one troublesome fly on your hands (or floating in your soup), you find yourself with a whole swarm to combat.

Nothing's worse than a fly in your soup. Photo from
When thinking back over some of the countries I’ve visited, I can almost always recall at least one incident in every place where flies have ‘bugged’ me to the point of despair. One occasion I remember with particular clarity involved a meal at a small lake-side café in northern Spain. Having already taken note of the amount of flies hovering around and generally being a nuisance to the other diners, I wasn’t exactly looking forward to my meal. Sure enough, no sooner had the waiter placed the food in front of me, than it became covered in a swarming, flapping, buzzing mass of flies.

Now, I have to admit that I’m a squealer and a ‘get up and flap around like a woman possessed’-type of person when it comes to all things bug related, and being in the company of others isn’t usually enough to deter my enthusiastic reaction. So I had a bit of a squeal, and I had a bit of a flap, but then I suddenly realised just how hungry I was, and having waited almost an hour for the food to come out, I wasn’t about to let it go to waste, flies or no flies. So I drew a deep breath, noted with relief that people were no longer gawking at me, and sat down, ready to tackle my meal. The flies really were incredibly persistent and the only way to eat anything was to do it by placing a table napkin over the food and lowering my head so that my fork had but a millisecond to travel through the fly infested air to reach my mouth, which was gaping open like that of a freshly caught Cod.

Now as you’re more than likely aware, due to their high intake of food, flies constantly deposit feces anywhere and everywhere, making them dangerous carriers of over 100 pathogens, those causing Typhoid, Cholera, Dysentery and Anthrax to name but a few. So my reaction to the humble housefly may well be embarrassing for those who happen to be with me, but not only can the winged tykes drive you to the brink of insanity with their perpetual buzzing, but they can make you really poorly, too.

I know that the warmer the climate, the happier the flies are and the quicker they can reproduce, and so it’s no surprise that my most troubling encounters with them have been in hot countries. Here in Morocco, the flies are ridiculously rampant. Should you leave your door or your window open the merest of cracks, the little blighters will find their way in and I’ve lost count of how many cans of industrial strength fly spray we’ve gotten through since we’ve been here.

Fly swatters may be more environmentally friendly (and humane) than you think. Photo from
Now I know there will be plenty of bug lovers out there bursting to tell me the benefit of flies to our ecosystem, but I challenge each and every one of you not to curse their very existence the next time you’re forced to use appallingly foul language and ridiculous looking arm gestures to fend off an intrusive fly that’s hellbent on entering your left nostril. If you take offence to the use of insecticides to eliminate the little beasties, then why not purchase yourself a fly swat? They’re available in a wide range of colours, styles and sizes and are completely environmentally friendly. Once you’ve perfected your swatting technique, the fly will be afforded a swift death, leaving the bug lover reassured that no unneccessary suffering has been inflicted. Do be advised though, that a vigorous swipe to the face of an innocent bystander, although usually (but not always!) accidental, can be decidedly embarrassing for both parties, so please swipe responsibly.

Happy swatting, folks!