The Texanist on Texas’s Flies
A New Yorker thinking about moving to Austin says one thing is holding her back: flies. The Texanist weighs in.
Q: My husband and I, Brooklyners both, visited Austin during our honeymoon and just love it there. The culture in the city and surrounding area is definitely up our alley and it would be a great place to move for both of our jobs. But one thing we noticed while dining outside at one restaurant were all the flies—on our food and everything. They utterly grossed out my husband, as there were tons at this particular establishment. Is this a normal thing? If so, is there anything you can do to help me defend my dream of moving?
Jenna Poor, New York City, New York
A: Yes, this is absolutely normal. Texas is lousy with flies. They’re everywhere. Especially, it seems, in Austin. One time, just after the Texanist had enjoyed a large bowl of tortilla soup at his favorite Capitol City Tex-Mex joint, he offered his compliments to the chef for the novel addition of a liberal amount of black peppercorns to the soup, only to be informed that there was no such ingredient in that soup. YIKES!
Actually, as bad as you think things were, the Texanist suspects that y’all got off pretty easy if the only place you experienced fly problems was during the alfresco dining experience on your post-nuptial trip. Typically, the relentless flies for which Texas is known manage to find their way indoors, too. The Texanist is surprised your letter did not also contain complaints about flies in the airport, the bedroom, the bathroom, the closet, a music venue, a movie theater, a shopping mall, and your rental car. And, by the way, the Texanist isn’t just talking about the average, everyday housefly like the ones that were bugging you and your husband on that restaurant patio, either. Oh, no. In addition to common houseflies, there are also, because of all the malodorous horses that call Texas home, tons of common horseflies, too. And, additionally, swarms of stable flies (thank those malodorous horses once again), deer flies, dragonflies, fireflies, crane flies, mayflies, giant mayflies—
—Mydas flies, Dobson flies, giant stoneflies, longlegged flies, gold-backed snipe flies, flower flies—
Sorry. The Texanist lost his train of thought. Where was he? Oh, yes—fishflies, flesh flies, hover flies, bee-like tachinid flies, repetitive tachinid flies, rabbit bot flies, woodrat bot flies, picture-winged flies, northern caddisflies, yellow-flies—
—Virginia flower flies, robberflies, tiger bee flies, soldier flies, snakeflies (this is a real type of fly), scorpionflies (also real), and Spanish flies.
The Texanist reached out to the entomology department at Texas A&M University to confirm all of this, but never heard back from them, which he suspects may have been due to his long list of questions about Spanish fly. Anyway, once y’all get used to our many pesky and, in a few cases, dangerous flies, then you’ll just have to deal with the scorpions, centipedes, yellow jackets, hornets, killer bees, fire ants, ticks, fleas, mosquitos, chiggers, tarantulas, black widow and brown recluse spiders, cuckoo wasps, cow killers, stink bugs, rattlesnakes, water moccasins, conservative politicians, skunks, and feral hogs. And the rapidly growing number of Californians.
And, no, there’s nothing you can do about this plague that Texans live with the whole year round. Flypaper, citronella, aerosol repellent, swatting, shoeing, flailing, and loud yelling are all completely futile. The Texanist has tried them all. Sorry to rain (it sometimes rains flies here) on your relocation parade, but there are simply a whole lot of flies in Texas. All the time. Kind of like it is with New York and all those rats, come to think of it. Hey, in the eventuality that y’all do end up moving here—
—maybe it would be helpful if you and your husband tried to think of the flies not as flies, but as teeny, tiny flying rodents.
Send your own questions to [email protected] and don’t forget to tell him where you’re from.