Swatter ups odds in battle with fly

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, June 30, 2010

“There’s a fly in this kitchen,” I said, as the pesky insect breezed by my face for the fourth or fifth time in the past few minutes. “Not only that, it’s a nasty green fly,” I added. This had gone on long enough. I had taken a swipe at it with a newspaper several times and missed. It was apparently enjoying this little foray inches from my nose because it kept coming back. Right then, though, it had winged its way out of sight.

I threw aside the newspaper, rushed out to the sun porch, grabbed my super-duper, oversized, yellow plastic fly swatter (compliments of a pest control company), and put it at my side. Just about time I got absorbed in the article I was trying to read, the persistent nuisance made another pass by my face. It whizzed through at such a speed that I wondered if I’d felt a little breeze generated by its wings. Keeping my eyes on its erratic flight, I saw it land on my stove, and then take off again. This time it set down on the kitchen window glass behind the blinds. Ah, ha. It was playing hide and seek with me. I waited, weapon poised. After it spent a few seconds exploring the window glass, it sailed off onto my electric can opener near the kitchen sink. I moved in a little closer, took aim…, and missed.

OK, so my aim was off, even with a king-sized weapon. As my tiny prey whirled over the kitchen again, I remembered something I had read about flies: They have compound eyes composed of thousands of individual lenses and are very sensitive to movement. Even though those eyes have poor image resolution, they possess a very large view angle and can detect fast movement. I realized that my uninvited kitchen visitor had seen my raised hand with the big yellow swatter through numerous lenses in its eyes. Nevertheless, I wasn’t giving up. I had no intention of allowing it to walk around on the fresh fruit centerpiece on my kitchen table or scatter its germs anywhere else in the house. It had to go.

It had winged its way out of sight again, but its return was eminent. Swatter in hand, I searched the kitchen. It appeared suddenly, from where I didn’t know, but there it was. It made a smooth landing on a dishtowel rack. I moved closer, raised the yellow swatter one more time, and struck with a mighty blow. Bingo! The victim fell to the floor, injured, but not fatally. I administered the final blow, scooped it up with the swatter, and dropped the remains in the garbage.

After all that evasion and pursuit, I felt a slight twinge of sadness as I dumped that poor dead fly in my kitchen garbage. It had proven a worthy enemy with all those lenses functioning, but I emerged the victor thanks to my yellow super-duper fly swatter.