Random musings as we hurtle headlong into stifling, steamy summer:
Be it the result of global warming, La Niña, spring floods/tornadoes, our eighth year into the Age of Aquarius, or a combination of all, this has got to be a record-setting year for horseflies.
The @#$%&* things are everywhere.
In most years, they're only an occasional nuisance (I swear there is one that lurks in the same place each morning every summer, waiting to harass me when I'm out for my pre-dawn walk). But everywhere I turn nowadays they're buzzing around.
They fly so fast — they're the F-16 fighter jets of the insect world — it's impossible to swat one, although the reflex action is to try, which makes for some scenes out of a Three Stooges film.
The neighbors doubtless shake their heads when they see me out whacking weeds or watering the lawn and crazily waving my arms about my head in a futile attempt to shoo the dratted flies away.
Insect repellents are useless; the flies seem not to care a whit.
Anyone who's ever been bitten by a horsefly knows all too well the unpleasantness it entails.
Actually, entomologists point out, the flies don't really bite — they use their knife-like mouth parts to slice the skin of man or beast and then feast on the blood pool that's created. The resultant irritation and swelling are painful enough (cows and horses have been known to injure themselves trying to escape the winged demons), but the fly spit can also cause allergic reactions such as hives and wheezing.
The situation this year apparently isn't confined to the Delta. On the YouTube.com Web site, there are numerous videos involving the pest: “Attack of the Killer Horseflies!” “Horsefly Takes a Spit Bath,” “Horsefly In Church,” etc. (while there, you can really be grossed out by also viewing “Worm-Like Creature Removed From Eye”).
The spooks at the CIA, instead of using waterboarding and other tortures (err, techniques of persuasion) on suspected terrorists, ought to put them in a room full of horseflies. They'd be confessing in no time flat.
Switching to the animal kingdom, the chipmunk population seems to have also exploded this year. The overly hyper “ground squirrels,” which one used to see only west of the Mississippi River, began migrating into the area 10 years or so ago and seem to have found things to their liking.
It's like they sent a message to all their kin on the other side of the river: Come on over, things are great here!
However cute some folks consider them, they're devilishly destructive, digging tunnels under the yard (and even under concrete foundation slabs), playing havoc with stuff in flowerpots, and wrecking vegetable gardens.
Perhaps the critter story that topped 'em all this spring, though, was the set of photos Kate Hood made of a very mean-looking 8-1/2 foot (!!) alligator lollygagging across the rows of a corn field on their Bolivar County, Miss., farm (see Page 6).
Let's hope the gators don't multiply like chipmunks. Maybe we could sic the hordes of horseflies on 'em ….