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Minibeasts of ignominy

Friday 20 November 2009

Some creatures have no shame.

In the last three days we’ve suddenly had houseflies again. (This is more interesting than that sounds.)

Flies when the weather’s hot and the cows are in the next-door field: fair enough. They’re only trying to make a living, after all. Flies in November: hardly cricket.

These don’t look dopey, as end-of-season (would that make them special-offer?) flies normally look, but they’re quite tricky to persuade out of the windows. I thought this was because they’re wide awake and bright enough to think: Cold out there, warm indoors, I know which I prefer. But then one settled on the high-up bit of the kitchen window so I had to fetch something long to encourage it to flee the right way. Fly swat therefore in hand, I reached to open the itty-bitty window, poked roughly towards the insect with the swat, and lo! It went AAGH and fell down dead. TH’DONK onto the top of a (thankfully, lidded) jug. I was left protesting to the hypothetical, but ever-present, observing judge: Came off in me hand, honest, guv. Not guilty!

I suppose something, slightly warmer nights maybe, woke them from their near-death stupor and that excited them so much that they took to whizzing about our rooms in a frenzy of eat-drink-and-be-merry-for-tomorrow… Whatever, I have felt even less benevolent towards this batch of houseflies than I usually do. That’s not just me. I’m convinced they’re an unprincipled lot.

My beloved mini sedum – the diddy little sprig of sedum that’s growing in the lid from a coffee jar, having missed its vocation (filling a gap in the paving) and made the very best of a bad job by flowering, late but lovely, on my window sill – is one of my prides and joys. It has shown its mettle for more than six months by flourishing despite having no proper home, not even a proper pot and saucer; despite persistent neglect, being unwatered while its parent and siblings were outside being rained on; and despite having no drainage holes in its coffee lid so that when water did arrive it didn’t escape as it ought.

After all that, this housefly

came and fed from it.

Smug or what?

I was shocked.

And the very next thing I found:

Not the most focused attack I’ve ever mustered, but these photos are needed only as evidence. This cheeky piece of fauna did its best (NB ‘its’ is no insult, they’re hermaphroditic) to conceal its presence.

They did tell me that an Easter cactus summering (I presume that’s the equivalent of wintering?) outdoors can be prey to slugs. I thought keeping it in a big bucket sheltered by the shrub the bucket belonged to, which was there waiting its own overdue border planting, and by being tucked between a table and the wall of the house, was protection enough from gastropods as well as overrainedness and sunscorchingness.

But no. I denounce the above impostor. And worse, having ousted that one, I found another masquerading as a piece of damp soil on a leaf. I failed to take any incriminating pictures while this one was trespassing, but took a few mug shots after evicting it.

If photographic material can count towards character witness, how bad these make the trespasser look!

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