It’s bicho season (bug season) again here in the Azuero. The rains excite these very important members of the ecosystem to hatching and mating and another year of eat, drink, make merry and drive the humans nuts. That they are important unfortunately does not make them more lovable or their company more enjoyable.
First we get the beetles – thousands and thousands of them careening into town on hormone highs, in love, in lust, in orgiastic, enthusiastic, indiscriminate descent upon innocent, unsuspecting light bulbs. Beetle parties last well into the night, but the beetles seldom do. Most will be dead or dying in the morning, whether their partners of the previous evening still respect them or not.
For about two weeks, every morning at sunrise their crispy little bodies will lie chitin to chitin, dead, across the porch, only one or two still struggling feebly. Where they managed to find an opening into the house, beetle bodies will litter the floor in that room as well. If they can find an opening into your bedroom, you are well-advised to plug your ears with cotton, because they will swoop you. These beetles are in love, totally lacking discrimination and completely uncaring about whether you reciprocate their affection.
Screens on your windows and doors are a really good idea. I have friends living at the beach who retreat to their darkened, air conditioned bedroom at dusk during beetle season. They close the door, batten down the shutters, turn off all the lights inside the house and huddle in the dark, hoping to lure the beetles’ interest away from themselves to the excitement of a well-lit porch party.
The morning sweep up job takes a good half hour. Of course, their dogs help, as they are beach dogs and beach dogs will eat anything. To judge from El Fido’s relish, the beetles are a crunchy canine treat.
Next come the tiny wasps. These are major players in the local pollination scene, very important in the local agricultural scheme of things. However, they also pack a serious sting. I have not yet been stung, but those who have tell me it’s worse than a sting from one of the big wasps.
The thing is, these teensy wasps, like their larger cousins the yellow jackets, really like people food. And people drink. They are also a daytime experience. It pays a good dividend here to pay attention and always LOOK at your drink before putting it to your mouth. Swallowing a fly is nothing compared to the experience of swallowing a live wasp. If you are lucky you will only be stung on a lip. If you are not, well … I’m so sorry for you.
And then it will be fly season here, all too soon. As anywhere, we have flies in the Azuero all year long. But the month known locally as Fly Season is like something from a science fiction movie. At a signal from The Great Fly God, every viable fly egg in the area hatches simultaneously. Great swarms of them hover (especially over our famous dump) and descend on whatever attracts them.
That would include you, your food, your glass of anything, and any hole they can find in your window screens, between your doors and windows and the wall, or beneath the door. They are very good at finding such holes and in spite of your best efforts, your house will be filled with their obnoxious little selves.
I probably don’t need to tell you to cover every single thing you might eat or drink at all times, but I’m going to anyway because you will probably make some exception.
I make a version of cowboy coffee (boil the water, throw in the coffee, stir once and let it sink to the bottom as it cools) because I only drink iced coffee now. (Have I mentioned how hot it is here?) What could possibly be attractive to a fly about a cooling pot of unsugared coffee? That was my reasoning.
Unfortunately, flies don’t reason, at least not during this time of year. Yuck!
Swallowing a fly is akin, in terms of the texture of the experience, to swallowing a raisin which has been soaking in whatever. Not too awful, in actual fact.
But the mental anguish associated with it more than compensates. I don’t recommend it.
What to do? Well, this year I am going to try a couple of tricks I picked up on the internet, specifically from a website called The Healthy Home Economist.
The first is a fly repellent. The rationale for it sounds a bit iffy: because flies’ eyes are faceted the water in the bag reflects into all those facets and confuses them, so they leave. But if it works, I don’t care about why. Some say it works really well; but they also say that some varieties of flies are not bothered. I will try it and then I will know how my local flies feel about it. I’ll put a couple of bags on the front and back porches and see what happens. Here’s the link on the Healthy Home Economist for more information.
The second thing is a fly trap, which sounds eminently sensible. I’m pretty sure it will work; the question is whether even 300 traps would be enough to deal with all the flies we get. Other friends have tried fly traps here and just wound up with lots of dead flies to go with their live ones. So we will see. Here’s the link on the Healthy Home Economist for instructions on building the magic trap. (The stuff in the bottom of the trap is cut potato, which, when it rots, will be very attractive to the flies.) Thank you, Sarah, Healthy Home Economist.