A post from last summer about the very real concern of things with wings that bite.
I don’t really mind horses. I don’t particularly like them, but they generally keep to themselves in fenced pastures so I have little reason to dislike them. I generally dislike flies. They ruin outdoor eating activities. They smack themselves repeatedly against car windows and window screens. I dislike them, but they really don’t bother me much. The two species, in and of themselves, are tolerable. However, whatever it is that horses and flies do in the wooded cover of Wisconsin’s northwoods, that disgusting act creates an animal so vile, an animal so hated, that it can single handedly destroy a beautiful sunny day like nobody’s business. I am speaking, of course, of the dreaded Horse Fly.
The horse fly isn’t really a single species of fly, rather it’s a term used to describe as many as 4000 large fly species scattered around the globe. They bite. They bit people. They bite animals. They even had the nerve to bite my little girl over the weekend. They don’t bite as much as the cut. They cut your skin, and then lap up your blood like little winged leeches. They repulse me, and they’ve been the bain of my northward vacations since my childhood.
I’ve written before about the vacation destination of my youth, a ramshackle collection of cottages on a small lake near Detroit Lakes, Minnesota. The air was clean, the stars bright, and walking down a grassy hill towards a shaky wooden dock was my idea of a great morning in the northwoods. My brothers and I would swim from the pier to the floating raft, and bask in the sun on itchy blue indoor outdoor carpeting. While the leeches swarmed below, waiting for the weakest link to be thrown into their waters during a raucous bought of king of the raft, the air attack was just getting under way. Horse Flies of epic proportions would land on us. Bite us. Tear at our skin, and ruin our raft time. We’d dive in, swim under water toward the shore, only to be attacked again by these devil flies that waited for us on the surface. They were nasty, and I hated them.
This past weekend, I took a brief 48 hour vacation to the northwoods of Wisconsin, thanks to the hospitality of some friends who own a small cabin on an even smaller lake. It was a great mini vacation, one that I’ll write about in the future. The lake was near Minocqua, which is a strong 4 hour drive from my house in Lake Geneva. The drive was a bear, but that too is another post. The lake was clean, quiet, and very pretty. The fishing was great, and my kids had fun swimming in the water. The women who tagged along on the trip, weren’t quite so thrilled. It seemed that while children didn’t mind the horse flies and their razor teeth, the ladies most certainly did. They hid out in the cabin, out of the dirty, painful reach of the horse flies that cruised the beach and the water like mini apache helicopters just looking for a soft, fleshy spot to land.
The funny thing about horse flies is that while you’ll find them across the entire globe, you’ll have a hard time finding them in Lake Geneva. I’ve spent more days on the lake in my first 31 years than most people would spend in a full lifetime, and I can count the horse fly encounters I’ve had here on one hand, with several fingers to spare. Horse flies, like their blood sucking cousins, the leech, just don’t feel comfortable in Lake Geneva. They know they’re outclassed, and they hate it. We’d mock them here, with there little serrated arms, and they’d just rather not deal with it on a day to day basis, so they seek out more hospitable lakes, with more tolerant vacationers. We just won’t stand for it here, and that’s a benefit to you and your soft skin.
No horse flies, reason #1,249,843 Lake Geneva is the place for you.