A bet­ter way to deal with black flies

The Woolwich Observer - - SPORTS - OPEN COUN­TRY

YOU HAVE NOT TRULY en­joyed life un­til you have left your in­sect re­pel­lent in the car dur­ing a long, hot hike to a back­woods lake in spring. Just to be clear, the en­joy­able part hap­pens af­ter you make it back to the car.

I was re­minded of this the other day when I was go­ing on a walk around my neigh­bour­hood. And, just to give credit where credit is due, it was the black flies that re­minded me.

I can’t imag­ine that it’s much fun be­ing one of the most an­noy­ing life forms on the planet – but enough about Trump. It’s prob­a­bly no fun be­ing a black fly ei­ther.

A black fly’s sole pur­pose in life is to fly around aim­lessly, while wait­ing for some in­tel­li­gent, warm­blooded life form to come along. Then, if all goes well, the fly avoids ran­dom swat­ting as well as drag­on­flies, and lands on my bare flesh where it latches on to drains me of blood. In a best-case sce­nario, this bare flesh isn’t in a plumber’s crack.

In a worst-case sce­nario

for the fly, just as it’s about to land, it smells in­sect re­pel­lent, which I as­sume is the bit­ing in­sect’s equiv­a­lent of tofu – sure you can eat it, but you’d rather not. So then in a ran­dom act of rage, the fly does a kamikaze flight straight into my eyes or ears.

I have no sci­en­tific or sta­tis­ti­cal ev­i­dence to sup­port this, but I sus­pect a full 97 per cent of all black flies end up in one of these two places. The other three per­cent end up in my plumber’s crack.

And while this is great for the peo­ple who go on hikes with me, I’ll ad­mit it’s quite an­noy­ing.

It’s most an­noy­ing be­cause I spent lots of money, try­ing to smell like an in­sect’s ver­sion of tofu. I use a wide va­ri­ety of prod­ucts de­signed to de­ter black flies and other bit­ing in­sects. This in­cludes a bug jacket, in­sect re­pel­lents and lo­tions, Therma-cell units, cit­ronella, in­sect coils and those sticky patches you put on your hat. By the way, I be­lieve the sole pur­pose of the lat­ter is so that the re­cov­ery team has a clue about what fi­nally drove you mad.

Some­times, I uti­lize all of these de­fenses at once. This merely causes the black flies to find the one spot on the back of my neck that is un­pro­tected.

I guess what I’m say­ing here is that there is no real es­cape from black flies dur­ing spring. Plus, I think we are go­ing about this all wrong.

You see, try­ing to re­pel them just makes them try harder. So I’m won­der­ing why our in­sect re­pel­lent sci­en­tists don’t take an­other ap­proach. Why not de­velop black fly at­trac­tants?

I en­vi­sion a spray so de­li­cious to a black fly that you draw them in for miles – af­ter you have sur­rep­ti­tiously sprayed it on your fish­ing buddy. This would also en­sure you never get out­fished again. I’d gladly field test some. It should taste much bet­ter than tofu. Per­haps ran­cid liver blood? You know; some­thing even the most se­lec­tive black flies can­not re­sist. It should be so ap­peal­ing to a black fly’s palate that the flies will im­me­di­ately ig­nore me and visit my un­sus­pect­ing friend. Just to be sure I’d also make it gluten- and nut-free.

If it works well enough, black flies would not be an is­sue for a full 50 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion. Un­less you visit your favourite back­woods lake with two guys who are about to out­fish you.

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