The Aussie Salute

I have not been to the army, but there is one army manoeuvre that I do very well and that is the “Aussie salute”! One thing that very few people are prepared for is the Aussie flies.
The saying goes that you are tru-blu Aussie when you have swallowed a fly. I got my colours one day in a very short time span when I swallowed not one but … wait for it… three! The flies went down my throat as fast as you can say, “Dêmmit!”
New migrants beware, you will experience the flies at one time or another. Please allow me to “educate” you on the type of flies that you are likely to encounter on the shores of this vast country.
Of the almost 20 000 species of flies in Australia you only have to have knowledge of 3. The Bush fly, the Biting fly and the House fly.
The bush fly is the pesky little bugger that keeps gunning for your nose, eyes and mouth. They are attracted to secretions on the skin. Don’t worry, it will not bite you but will rather suck up the nutrients. “Oh good!” said no one ever! How ironic that the highest part of the food chain is degraded to a yummy treat for the ever so important fly. These little babies are also not toilet trained and you may become a walking cess pool. (Too much information already?) Take heart dear people, the little bush fly does not pose a great health risk. His big brother, the house fly on the other hand, is a totally different story as I will tell you in the coming paragraphs.
Some years the bush fly is much more of a pest than others because of drought conditions which renders the humble dung beetle a less active than usual. (Tid bit of info – did you know that they “imported” dung beetles from South Africa during the 1960’s- if my memory serves me correct?) The dung beetles go into “hibernation” when there are dry spells and they consequently can’t get to work on the cow manure, and so the native bush flies breed and hatch in their multitudes.
But why must we tolerate the flies, except that we chose to come and live on this continent? Yes they have a purpose I now find out. They are nature’s recycling agents. The play a role in plants’ absorption of organic matter, pollination and the regulation of other fly populations (believe me there are worse flies than the bush fly).
The second fly is the March fly or the Biting fly. I have been bitten by one or six and it is not an enjoyable experience at all. Lucky for me the Australian Biting fly does not transmit diseases. They look like mini helicopters (yes I am exaggerating) and are most active in still, open sunny areas, though I must say that I had my introduction to them on the beaches of Esperance.
Lastly the despicable house fly. Tip one – Australia’s security doors are called “fly screens”. Yes, you need to be secured against these abominations! Forget the burglars, the flies are worse! Keep them closed at all times. At night they love to fly in your bedroom and as they fly past you, you can literally feel the wind from their wings. These guys are the bodybuilders of flies and they are not scared of anabolic steroids at all.
Tip two – rather keep your garbage bin outside. I was a bit lazy once and did not take my smaller bin outside when it was full, hoping that the man of the house would do his husbandly duties and do the smelly task. Well… the said man of the house walked into the kitchen where maggots have started to crawl out of the bin! Let me tell you, Mortein Target DOES NOT KILL these critters. My Kirby worked overtime and the ones I was able to sweep into a bin only died when drowned/cooked in boiling water. Now I put my garbage in the plastic shopping bags and throw it out half way or at the end of the day. Hate is such a strong word, but I gladly reserve it for the housefly.
How do you keep the flies at bay? Some say have mint plants around your home, others say use the Bushman brand spray. (It stinks, but seem to do the job. But others also don’t want to come near you.) I bought a poison spray that they use on farms, which is still in the packet because I am waiting for the designated better half of me to do the spraying.
Tip three – before you pack your suitcase, go to the camping shops and buy a hat with netting attached to it. Unflattering and alienlike, but that seems to do the job when going out in open spaces. That and keeping your mouth shut while you walk (hope you are not a sinus sufferer) and a little branch of eucalypt leaves.
All the best guys in your journey to the Great South Land, and may your early days be free of flies.

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