Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Bitey

Where I come from we call them Cleggs.* Around these parts they call them Llears. Some people mistake them for horse flies. All I know is that they're evil bastards.



Normal flies are a pain at this time of year. It's hot and muggy, so as soon as you step outside you start to sweat. Before long, you're surrounded by a tiny ecosystem of buzziness, getting up your nose and in your ears in search of some salty sweat to sook up. It's annoying, but not life-threatening.

Cleggs are a different matter. They don't want poxy old sweat, no. They're after blood, and the more of it the better.



They're canny buggers too. Where most flies will move off when you wave a hand at them, these stay put. They also have a knack of landing on your skin so softly that you don't notice they're there. Until the sting of their mouthparts, that is. These are long and sharp, enough to bite you through a thick cotton T-shirt or trousers. And they inject you with a noxious venom that hurts like being pricked with a white hot needle. Then you start to pay them more attention. Then you swipe them off or, as I prefer, smack them hard against the skin to break their carapace. But it's too late by then. Far too late. The poison is already inside you.



I barely react to midge bites at all these days - I'm so full of antihistamines to fend off the hayfever they have no noticeable effect. Clegg venom is more powerful stuff. It spreads around the tiny wound, puffing up the skin in an angry red mound that itches incessantly. And it doesn't go away quickly, either. I've a bite on my left wrist that still hurts over a week after the dying fly tumbled to the ground and was crushed under my boot. They're evil, I tell you. The Devil's own.

The one in the photos made the mistake of landing on the front of my T-shirt as I was waiting for the Dachshund to catch up during this morning's stroll. I always carry a plastic bag full of dog-bribery, to reward the labrador when he inadvertently does something good, and I was holding the bag in one hand as the Clegg landed. Mindful of its ability to bite even through good thick cotton, I swatted it sharpish, whereupon it tumbled lifeless into the bag. That pale dust coating it is the mush of dog biscuit crumbs that accumulate over time.

I say that it fell lifeless into the bag, and that is the way it seemed when I got home. But ten minutes out of the crumbs and it seems to be coming back to life. So now I'm going to take it outside and stand on it.

dead at last

* although there is some debate as to the correct spelling. Some like to start with a K, others prefer only one L. The Welsh spelling is debatable too, but that's true of all Welsh words.

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5 Comments:

Anonymous Ellen said...

Lovely photos! They sound quite similar to the deer flies encountered in Maine.

July 02, 2009 2:51 am  
Blogger Gabriele C. said...

Ah yeah, Stechfliegen.

But Scottis midges are still worse, and far more numerous.

July 02, 2009 7:37 pm  
Blogger highlandwriter said...

Too funny.

:-)

I am glad to know the crystailized bits on the offending fly are just bits of biscuits! I rather thought you'd hauled the thing to the lab for a look under the microscope!

cheers!
--hw

July 03, 2009 2:45 am  
Blogger swallowtail said...

Yes. I was concerned about the crumbs, and glad to know that it's merely bisquit crumbs. Eeww. What an awful thing to have around, and I have to admit to a cheer (out-loud, and loud!) when I came to the last photo.

Thanks for sharing...

July 07, 2009 7:30 pm  
Blogger Trace said...

Okay, now I feel itchy.

July 09, 2009 8:01 pm  

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