Fly Gun or Fly Swatter?

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Vintage Insect fly spray can

One of my earliest memories as a child was being rushed to the hospital. The Australian heat in the early hours had propelled me to look for something to drink and there it was a French fly-tox tin sprayer.

I unscrewed the lid and drank the insecticide. My sister caught me and woke my parents. I was three years old.

The doctor declared, under his breath, that I was crazy tweaking a pugilistic response from my father. I had to spend the next thirty years convincing him otherwise.

Memories of insect intrusion and stories from the outback about being that many flies they covered and blackened the windows, which was welcomed as it helped cool the place – Ozzie optimism. Living in Britain afterwards, well, such things were less of a nuisance.

Spanish Flies

Here on the Costa Blanca, the flies have returned to haunt me. Not in droves, more surgical and organised. The summer months first send in the midges that get up in your face, followed by the docile flies, which don’t seem to be there for any other reason than to fly in a figure of eight in the middle of the room, hypnotic and annoying. The random bottle-fly noisily buzzing in, scoping and probing, pretending it’s trying to find its way out.

The worse, house flies (musca domestica), landing on everything and as close as they can get to you, your food and drinks. If you point at one, another lands on your finger – chuntering. A fly swat may get one or two if you have the reaction time of a petulant child on hearing it’s bedtime. For me splatting guts and pathogens over my faux finished walls was not the answer.

No Flies on Me

Whilst hanging some old CDs on string in the doorway, one sweltering afternoon – the reflection apparently deters their intrusion. My Inamorata sauntered in and threw down a present from a shopping therapy trip. She had found an amusing toy and thought of me – instant remedy. The gun kills without squishing once you line up your victim – squeeze the trigger.

One hour on the shooting range and I already viewed this as more than a big boy’s toy. Flies that were more settled in than the troops at Stalingrad had been relieved.


This has led to another problem, now that I’m the fastest gun in the house, stood there, armed to the teeth with a plastic fly gun, body count twenty. I realised my obsession has rubbed off on Roxy, a scruffy, care-free, Heinz 57, rat-esque hound. Watching me for some time has now gripped her, realising this is her way to give back.

Roxy is fully aware, that jumping on the furniture raises the decibel level from the human female species of the house. The pursuit of a fly that has had the audacity to meander in on her territory is chased down and that includes shelves, sofas and the dining table. I’ve not mentioned the table to the missus because of course Roxy’s obsession is my fault and “it was the wind that blew over your mother’s vase.”

Even though the hound is an accomplished fly assassin, I won’t be hiring her out because the fly gun can’t be beaten. If you’re lucky enough to spot a mosquito you can still get the edge. Cleaning after use is recommended, but that depends on how paranoid you’re about the hundreds of different pathogens these flies can carry, including Salmonella, Staphylococcus, E. coli.

So you can hang CDs in the doorway, put a slice of lime in the top of your bottles of beer, or arm yourself with a red plastic toy that does the job.

Roxy? With her watery brown eyes looking at me, as she scratches behind her left ear – multi-tasking, I think about my next article – malas pulgas – bad fleas.




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