The Other I

August 13, 2020

Our foreign invader

Filed under: Just Stuff — theotheri @ 4:13 pm

Supermarkets here often sell fruit and vegetables to ripen at home at a reduced price. We have found this a convenient practice and often keep fruit on the kitchen windowsill.

Until now. We have been in the midst of a record-breaking heat wave with temperatures reaching the high 90’s or even into the 100’s Fahrenheit (that’s in the high 30’s Celsius). Traditional air conditioning is not available here in Britain which rarely reaches these temperatures. Windows where conditioners can be installed aren’t even available. So we have opened our windows and doors to create a cross-breeze and turned on our fans.

Nonetheless, I was appalled to walk into the kitchen several days ago to see flies swarming all over the food, and literally thousands of flies jammed together creating solid blocks of black on the walls while they patiently waited for their next meal.

Or perhaps for their offspring. I learned from Google that flies can produce a new generation as often as every 12 hours. Even worse, they are often carriers of deadly diseases. Seriously deadly – typhoid, TB, salmonella, dysentery, tapeworm, cholera, round worm, leprosy – to name a few of the killers I recognized.

I grew up on a farm where my mother taught us to keep flies off our food, even out of the kitchen. Our weapon of control was a fly swatter. Even if we had one, there is no way a simple fly swatter was going to eliminate the onslaught that, even as I stood there, expanded into the other rooms of the house.

What we did have were several packets of left-over sticky fly paper that we’d hung in the greenhouse to catch flies and other flying visitors. Of course, the first thing I did was to put all the fruit – everything edible, in fact, including crumbs – into the refrigerator. Then I distributed the sticky paper around all the crowds of flies usually swarming near doors and windows.

Then I went to the internet to search for fly killers. We’ve come a long way since fly swatters. There are, of course, fly sprays and powders, but there are electronic systems that claim to work. I read the reviews and wasn’t convinced, and decided to see how deadly the sticky paper might be.

It took two days but it worked. I will admit that as I watched and listened to the flies struggling to get free from their sticky prison I felt cruel. Over the years if I find a spider or bee in the house, I try to catch them and return them to their native environments outside. But there was no way I could catch enough of these foreign invaders to reduce the danger they carried with them. There were just way too many of them.

I will also admit, though, as I watched the flies struggle to regain their freedom, that they reminded me of another species with which I am well acquainted that has increasingly moved into foreign spots on the planet and carried deadly diseases with them. And I’m not talking about the corona viruses. If we don’t stop, we will be responsible for the extinction of tens of thousands of other species.

And we might very well kill ourselves. Unlike the flies, we have the intelligence to see what we are doing, and we must use that intelligence to recognize how important the survival of other species is to our own survival.

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