Friday, August 22, 2008

Horseflies

No picture today since I wasn't successful at getting one of these guys to stay still. I also have a very strong impulse to smash them when they do sit still. Gardening here in August sometimes become extremely frustrating since I spend more time swatting at these guys than actually pulling weeds. I sometimes get to the point that I just would rather sit on the enclosed porch and read a good book than have to deal with these guys. There are many different variation on these pests, but from Wikipedia I have found out that only the females bite because they need a blood mean for reproduction. Mammal blood is their favorite. Males don't even have the mouth parts to do this. Wish I could tell them apart so I'd know which ones to swat, though I would guess that the only ones landing on me are the females who are after my blood. They all feed on nectar and pollen, though I haven't observed this in the garden.
These guys have big eyes and find their prey by sight, hanging out in the shade and just waiting . Unlike insects which surreptitiously puncture the skin with needle-like organs, horse flies have mandibles like tiny serrated scimitars, which they use to rip and/or slice flesh apart. This causes the blood to seep out as the horsefly licks it up. They may even carve a chunk completely out of the victim, to be digested at leisure.
Lovely creatures. If you need to know more, widipedia has stuff about reproduction and lots of links.
I carry a fly swatter any time I'm in the garden this time of year. Waving it around seems to make them go away temporarily, though they always return in a few minutes. It also gives me something to swat me with. Hank just uses his hat since he thinks that works better. I have a bad habit of setting the flyswatter down and forgetting where I put it, so the other day at the hardware store when I saw a dayglow orange fly swatter I just snapped it up. Hopefully that will keep it more handy.
Today's job, in addition to pulling the ever present weeds is to put a second coat of paint on the side and front porches. I figured with this lack of rain it was a good time to get that done. And with no leaves falling yet I wouldn't have to worry about that either. Just had to pick a few bugs out of the paint yesterday. Now if only the horseflied would investigate it and get stuck, that might be especially nice.

1 comment:

Hocking Gardener said...

Have to laugh at your story because I was swatting at horseflies the other day while watering the flowers. They tend to tick one off, pesky things.