Why I wouldn’t harm a fly (in October)

Our six-year-old has a love-hate relationship with bugs. He’s happy to discover a Roly Poly, having a genuine soft spot for these ugly little creatures. For some strange reason, he refers to them as his Facebook Friends. He’ll turn over a rock with the question: “I wonder if any of my Facebook Friends are under here?” Perhaps this is social commentary; if so, it runs too deep for me.

Spiders are on the opposite end of his continuum of bugs. He doesn’t like spiders, and with good reason. Spiders don’t keep themselves inconspicuous, under rocks and other things typically found outside of the house. Spiders have no respect for human property rights and trespassing laws. Spiders have been known to bite people. These qualities do not recommend them as Facebook Friends.

Spiders sometimes get into little boys’ bedrooms. This is the worst thing spiders do. You know they’re just waiting for the lights go out, to crawl all over an innocent sleeper and probably jump into his mouth. Spiders are mean-spirited like that.

web of desire

I presume these are the long-missing, former owners of our house. The spiders in that bedroom are merciless.

Over the years, we have discovered three or four spiders in this boy’s bedroom. He has never been attacked by one of them, but they have left their mark. He just knows that for every spider seen, there are thousands of unseen brethren, biding their time, waiting for the perfect night to strike.

When this perfect night is scheduled within the spider community is unknown to us, but one thing is clear: we must be ever vigilant. This vigilance extends beyond spiders to their potential allies in the bug world. Even a visit from the harmless Lady Bug triggers the siren: “Bug in my room! Bug in my room!”

Daddy scrambles with his handful of toilet tissue to catch and escort the intruder to his final flushing place. The crisis isn’t over until Daddy explains why, logically, this wouldn’t be a good night for The Spider Revolt. Everyone knows, spiders are very logical.

Recently, the “Bug in my room!” siren was set off by a late season housefly. It was one of those plump, lethargic flies that you could pick up in your fingers if you wanted to. It was the quintessential housefly in autumn.

I have developed my own psychological bug thing. I can swat a housefly in spring or summer, no problem. But I can no longer bring myself to kill a housefly after the Equinox, for the stupid reason that the book I am in the midst of publishing is titled A Housefly in Autumn. Swatting that bug would be like killing my own book, which I would much rather wait and let the reading public do.

swatting for fun

Sometimes I yearn for the days when I could sit back with my swatter and make sport of the autumn flies. (Image: Russell Lee/US Farm Security Administration)

I flung a tube sock around the creature, trying to coax him out the door. Buster joined his brother in watching me do my Royal Fool Sock Dance. They had little patience for my forlorn efforts and as much sympathy for my superstition. “Kill it!” they yelled at me.

I couldn’t kill it. I swatted madly until we lost sight of it, then persuaded the boys that it was dead. It wasn’t dead; it was merely pushed off into obscurity. That’s a step above dead, right?


26 comments on “Why I wouldn’t harm a fly (in October)

  1. jkhughes2 says:

    I’m 37 years old and I do a spider check before I go to bed and if I should wake up in the middle of the night. Not like I’m paranoid or anything.

  2. tom w says:

    I always thought bugs were creepy. Until, I saw a Michigan State professor bring hundreds of them (dead and alive) to a presentation for school kids. Those kids were fascinated. I asked him if their reaction was typical. “Happens every time”, he said “kids love insects”.

  3. I love everything about this post…from the Facebook friends to the spider bedroom parties (which frankly terrify me if I think about them too long), to the excitement over your new book.

  4. Facebook friends? What an odd little thing. I’m guessing spiders are more Twitter related creatures than they are FB. So vile. What ever does happen to those flies that get away from us though? Where do they go and what do they do? I bet they become cult leaders for not getting squashed or flushed by the human or something like that.

    • It is pretty weird, but if he has to have Facebook Friends at six, I’d rather they be the ones under real rocks than those who hide under online rocks. The flies that get away either provide intelligence about the weak spots in human air defense to other insects, or we find them legs up in the window sill three months later. Not sure which.

  5. markbialczak says:

    Something about your autumnal aversion bugs me … but I can’t quite index my feelings about it.

    Snoozer, I’m with your boys. Kill it! Kill it! It’s an insect for cripes sake.

    Don, the ones that get away are huddling together somewhere, plotting mad revenge for there squashed compadres.

    Kill it! Kill it!

    • One man’s insect is another man’s omen. Well, I guess it’s still technically an insect, so maybe and insect omen. Anyway, maybe we’re done with flies for this year and I’ll have a whole year to consider how to deal with autumnal houseflies.

  6. kate365til says:

    He refers to them as his facebook friends…hahahahah

  7. Facebook Friends? Thats fantastic. These days you can’t even live under a rock without understanding social media. Loved the post. Very funny.

  8. Julie Burton says:

    I never kill spiders. I let them go outside. Good for the garden, right?

  9. pieterk515 says:

    I kill spiders because the wife says I have to.

    And I’ll rather be known as a arachnid-serial-killer than being pushed off into obscurity by the wife. I hate being alone.

  10. yearstricken says:

    You need to explain that Facebook friends are found on the web, so spiders must be Facebook friends too.

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