The attack of the killer flies

Here we are in Paradise. Blue skies. Blue lake. Blue puddle. And...

So here we are in Paradise.  We drive eleven miles out on the peninsula toward Point Abbaye.  (“Are you sure we didn’t drive forty miles?” the driver asked.)  You have to drive really slow.  Twenty, thirty miles an hour.  You wind slowly through tall trees on sandy roads.  It takes forever.

A strong breeze blew across the peninsula.  The waves crashed against the rocks.  It was an ideal day to visit our beloved Point.

I never once thought about the killer flies.

Killer Flies!

OK, they’re not really killer flies.  They are actually biting flies which hang out along the shores of Lake Superior in the summertime.  Usually June and July.  They don’t always present themselves.  Some days they congregate with fierce bites, threatening to eat you alive.  I mean bite you alive.  Other days, they are not even present.

Who would have thought they would be visible on a high-wind day?  Why didn’t the wind cooperate to blow them away?  Why?

Another view of the biting creatures

We didn’t notice them at first.  We meandered out along the west shore.  Lovely crashing waves!  Magnificent red rocks!  Wonderful Lake Superior!  Delightful Point Abbaye!

And then we turned onto the point itself.  The very tip-top of the peninsula.  One of the most lovely views around.

And then….

Owww!  Slap!  Slap!  Slap!  Owww…. 

The killer flies attacked.  And I mean attacked.  Ask my friend, Melinda, who visited from California a few years ago.  It’s like a scene out of the Alfred Hitchcock classic “The Birds”.  (For a one minute and forty-second YouTube synopsis of The Birds click here.) 

You can hardly describe the horror of these flies.  You are suddenly, completely, surrounded by biting flies.  And the bites hurt.  A lot. 

Run, run, run! Don't stop to take any more pictures!

And now my daughter knows–first hand–the horror of it.  We tried to snap a few more photos.  We couldn’t.

We began to run, helter-skelter, through the woods, seeking the forest path that cuts through the peninsula back to the parking lot.

“Run, run!”  I called, screaming.  Well, I probably wasn’t screaming.  But the call was insistent as I ran through the forest, attempting to outrun the killer flies.  I mean the wildly biting flies.

Let's pick raspberries on the way home instead. Much nicer than the Attack of the Killer Flies!

We leapt into the car.  Then began the killing frenzy.  Killing the straggling biters which had leapt into the car with us.  Slap, slap, slap.  Die, you biting flies!  We are sorry.  We are peace-loving souls, but we can’t live with you a minute longer.

Kiah did venture out again to the western beach–to gather a few flat rocks to bring home.  I sat in the car grumbling and slapping. 

We started the engine and headed back home.  Along the way we spotted a multitude of raspberries dangling red and juicy and ripe on roadside bushes.  We paused to pick handfuls.

At the end of our picking spree, we opened the car door and prepared to drive off.  When suddenly we looked down at my seat.  Apparently, upon entering the car in wild frenzy, I had brought in at least 20-30 of the creatures on the seat of my shorts.  Sat on ’em.  Crushed them all.  At least two dozen carcasses lay on my seat.

“Why did they like me more than you?” I whined to my daughter.

“They liked to eat local,” she replied.

We’re still laughing.

About Kathy

I live in the middle of the woods in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. Next to Lake Superior's cold shores. I love to blog.
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48 Responses to The attack of the killer flies

  1. Reggie says:

    Oh Good Grief. You poor dears! What a traumatic ordeal! I hope you have fully recovered by now. Hugs – and pots of soothing anti-bite lotion!

    • Kathy says:

      We’re recovered, Reggie! And it was strange–the bites didn’t stay. They hurt like the dickens when the creatures bit, but they didn’t itch and itch and itch like mosquito bites do.

  2. Jennifer says:

    I could feel your pain as I read and viewed. Had to laugh with you as I recall many simular events. “The Birds” is the perfect comparison! This makes me feel just a little better about being away from our dear bay for yet another weekend.

    • Kathy says:

      Jen, are you off and about again? I’ll bet you DO know what this is about! Bet you could write a blog yourself about these crazy biting creatures…

  3. Elisa's Spot says:

    OMG those suckers hurt!!!

    and lest I should summon them….that is the end of that attention
    and yay such lovely red velvet bumpy juicy sweet and sour raspberry red enclosed gently within glass

    ahhhh distraction!

    • Kathy says:

      Ahhh, Elisa, you have described the raspberries so magnificently! Raising a glass of them to you and gently toasting your presence on this fine earth.

  4. quietpaths says:

    Oh yes, I was introduced to those buggers when we were out there. After I watched blood running down my son’s forehead I realized how vicious they are. I really love the photo of the raspberries. Hope next time you go out there the flies are long gone.

    • Kathy says:

      Christine, so you’ve met some of our more eccentric residents of this fair land? Yes, they can be so vicious. I wish we could have a fly report along with our weather report!

  5. Dawn says:

    Yes those flies DO really hurt! I remember them! And not fondly, though I have to say I don’t recall ever seeing them in the volume you survived!

    We have horseflies here that chase a person as they jog. You try to run faster but you can’t outrun them.

    I’m a peace loving person too, but I’m glad you killed a few dozen of them!

    Enjoy the raspberries!! They look beautiful!

    • Kathy says:

      Dawn, they are much nicer when they aren’t congregating in large groups. I am smiling thinking of joggers attempting to outrun horseflies. (Although smiling may be cruel if you’re the person jogging!) More raspberries on our breakfast cereal this morning.

  6. Colleen Lloyd says:

    Yikes, you guys certainly have a LOT of different biting creatures up there! Are these ones like horseflies or deerflies? I have memories of those from growing up in Alberta. It doesn’t seem fair that there is such a painful price-of-admission to such a gorgeous part of the country. Haven’t seen (or tasted) wild raspberries for years. I’m glad there was such a delicious reward!

    • Kathy says:

      Oh yes, oh yes, Colleen. Many, many, many different kinds of biting creatures. I’m not sure what specific variety of biting flies these were. Everybody calls them something different. I just call ’em Killer Flies, LOL. There does seem to be a painful price of admission for living in the wilderness…

  7. Carol says:

    We had a similar episode last year when the kids were here – I got the bright idea of going down to a little day-use area in a little park on a little local river, which is gorgeously clear and icey cold. It was a warm, cloudy day, so who would’ve thought bugs would be a problem? We were immediately inundated by mosquitoes, whose bites do not hurt but they do stay with you. We too raced back to the car, swatting and yelping and carrying on. Those activities continued once we were in the car – the good thing was we had the windows rolled up.

    We haven’t gone back there since.

    • Kathy says:

      Carol, who would have thought that bugs would be a problem? That’s the problem. WE never know when they are going to be in attack-mode. You could go back to your lovely river today and it might be mosquito-free. How is a person suppose to know?

  8. Gerry says:

    GACK! I hate the little tortfeasors. Someday Mama Nature will take pity and send a Great Killer Fly Eating Bird to the North Country.

    The Point looks beautiful. Someday I’d like to see it. Probably not a summer day.

    I hope you and Kiah had ice cream with your raspberries. You deserved it because you were grievously assaulted. She deserved it because that was a very funny line.

    • Kathy says:

      Gerry…laughing…tortfeasors! The Point IS beautiful. We have lots more pictures we took before we rounded the point and were eaten alive. Ice cream on raspberries! Sounds delightful… And she is a VERY funny person! We’re all stand up comics in our household.

  9. patty sue says:

    Oh this made me laugh! I love the pic with Kiah running and the description of the crushed killer bees that had been attacking your behind! They eat local! Love it!!!

  10. barb says:

    Thank Goodness I wasn’t there with you! OH – I mean – the flies couldn’t be that bad, and you did get all those luscious berries…
    Your daughter inherited your sense of humor.

    • Ayla! says:

      Those dang things! We used to have those and deer flies at Girl Scout camp. And it hurts! You made me laugh when you talked about “The Birds” …I watched that (or tried to) a few years back and just laughed and laughed as I remembered how badly it terrified me when I was a kid! Killer seagulls and terrible acting!


      • Kathy says:

        Ayla, the perils of Girl Scout camp indeed… And OW do they hurt! I should watch The Birds again. I remember being terrified, too. Was it really bad acting?

    • Kathy says:

      Barb, they WERE that bad. I kid you not. I do tend to–well, sometimes, anyway–exaggerate a teeny tiny bit. But I did not here. But the berries were luscious! And Kiah has a great sense of humor.

  11. Glenda says:

    Oh dear Kathy..I am salivating madly at the sight of those raspberries that grow wild there. Here we pay a LOT of money for a mouthful of juicy bliss that comes in a small plastic punnet from the supermarket. I remember as a kid being able to gorge myself on the berries that grew in our yard.They are still my favourite berries, blackberries come next!.
    What a fascinating blog you have created here, giving us a chance to experience from a distance a bit of what its like to live by Lake Superior.
    A thought just occurred to me was that maybe there is a plant/herb that grows in that area that when rubbed on could repel those pesty winged invaders of your peace.
    Love the punch line from Kiah.
    Love Love

    • Kathy says:

      Glenda, we pay $5 for a little plastic box of raspberries, too, when they are not in season. So we must enjoy them now! (I did get a bunch to put in the freezer, so can sample summer for a few months…)

      There probably IS a plant which can be used. I wonder what the Natives did when the biting flies attacked them. I know they rubbed bear grease into their skin…maybe that was a deterrent.

      Glenda, thank you so much for stopping by the shores of Lake Superior! So thrilled to see you here.

  12. Oh my gosh, Kathy — this was hysterical! I know I should hang my head in shame at the awfulness of my laughter at your expense, but I can’t help it. You wrote the story in FUNNY way it’s natural that I should crack up!

    I’m sorry you were attacked. But I’m glad you ended up with bug guts on your butt — that’ll show ’em not to mess with The Drue Women!

    • Kathy says:

      Laurie, Laurie, you should NEVER hang your head in shame for laughing at my stories. (I am laughing uproariously as I write 99% of the time. Except when I’m crying…but that rarely happens…) Surely they’ll never mess with the Drue Women again. Surely! (Yeah, right…)

  13. kathusitalo says:

    I have the same pix from the same location with our daughter at about the same time two summers ago!

  14. Cindy Lou says:

    Wow! You guys just lucked right out, hey? My mom, Johnny and I were out there on Sunday and there were no flies!!! It’s always hit-and-miss with those nasty flies – Mom calls them “pecker flies” because they just peck you to death. And Ricky has an old wives’ tale/theory about which way the wind is blowing and how bad the flies will be – I’ll pass it along next time he wanders home! I got some wondermous photos of huge patches of soft, luscious moss… 🙂

    • Kathy says:

      What? You went out there on Sunday? And no flies? What? How could this be? But I know just what you mean. Somedays= no flies. Other days=we become fly luncheon. Ask Ricky which direction the wind needs to be blowing. And post some of your moss pics on Facebook, OK?

  15. janet says:

    Oh Kathy~ I have experienced the killer black flies and they’re no fun at all. My encounter with them was during a ceremonial week in Canada- the crowning finish to a year-long shamanic training. We were out in the wilderness with only tents to provide respite from the biters. And for 3 days of it, I was not even in a tent, but simply in a “magical” stone circle. I consider myself pretty powerful, but my banishing skills did not develop to the point of efficacy when it came to those flies….. Talk about opportunity to practice finding the still point and battling spiritual enemies….

    Wish we had had some lovely berry bushes to distract us. Those look scrumptious!

    • Kathy says:

      Janet, I can feel your pain. After a week of ceremonial training…and then to be tested by Them. The Biters. Yep. I know what you mean. I have actually sat there patiently with wildly biting mosquitoes attempting to maintain equanimity. Not very well, I may add. What a way to end your week! Oh my…

  16. Blood, like find wine, gets better with age. 🙂

    Ah, when I spent a summer in the Adirondacks, I survived by wearing long sleeved shirts, an Army shirt, long pants, a netted hat and a ounces upon ounces of Old Woodsmen repellent. I had to throw the clothes out after that it smelled so bad. 😀

    • Kathy says:

      Scott…laughing…oh THAT’S why they liked my blood better than hers! It was the aging process. Not the local blood at all… Good to hear your survival story. I wonder if repellent would have worked on these guys?

  17. melinda says:

    oh my god those friggin’ flies. this is Melinda and yup!!!! they are treacherous little creatures!!!

    so i visit my friend Kathy up there in the UP. she takes me for a ride and we go to the beautiful point. and as soon as we park the car it was like the day turned to night! a biting swarming night! the tiniest crack in the window allowed them into the car and it was a great decision to even open the door and run! run!!!!! quick!!! open and get OUT!!! fast as you can!!!! but it was impossible… one can only hope. so we open the doors and the swarm inside but we quickly run to the sites. here look! run! here look! run!! ok, done? yes! run back to the car which really was the 3 minute look at all the beauty and escaping with our skin still intact… alfred lives!

    • Kathy says:

      Melinda, I am delighted beyond words that you came to tell Your Story with those Evil Flies. Thank you for backing me up! Just in case anyone might disbelieve this little saga… (Good talking with you today!)

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  19. Barbara says:

    What an adventure you and Kiah had, and the pictures to prove it! To think, I get annoyed when just one deer fly dive bombs me twenty times before taking a bite. Or when swimming, ducking under water to get away from one only to have it attacking again every time I come up for air! Your pictures are something else! I have never seen so many flies in one place at a time! Very startling pictures! Would have loved to have a few of those luscious looking raspberries, though.

    • Kathy says:

      Oh Barbara you would not have been fond of this little expedition! (Although part of me was chortling with glee to have a really fun blog topic!) Wish we could have shared some of the raspberries with you. They were exceptionally sweet and juicy.

      • Barbara says:

        I can relate to your chortling with glee! 🙂 Every time I’m having an unpleasant experience I tell myself, “think of the great story you’ll be able to tell!” Those pictures are priceless!

  20. bearyweather says:

    I can relate … it has happened to me. I had to stop running to rub them off my back against a tree trunk (now I know why bears do that). I have suffered killer bugs many times to get those precious wild berries … in the end it usually worth it.
    I just found your blog today and am enjoying it .. I will be back.

    • Kathy says:

      Glad to have another person back up the horror of this story! I never thought of rubbing against a tree trunk, though. Will remember that for “next time”. Although…they probably would all congregate to the legs and arms about the time you try to rub them off the back. Thanks for stopping by.

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  22. Jessica says:

    Oh boy do I remember the biting flies. When we were up in Paradise for the 4th of July a few years back they were just as bad as the killer mosquitoes.

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  24. Laers says:

    This past weekend me and my girl friend chartered a sailboat out of Bayfield. Saturday we were sailing close to the shore and ready to tack away from it when the 5 mph wind died to nothing. At the same time the flies appeared out of nowhere, made a base at the dinghy we towed, and from there launched sorties at any exposed skin we had. We spreaded a fresh layer of bugspray on ankles, arms, which helped. But they bit us on our hands, butt through the clothing, etc.. We too thought of the movie the birds…. We motored out and our resident flies kept parked on the rubber dinghy, and efficiently launching biting sorties on us. We killed hundreds with a couple of swats we found in the boat after wondering why there were two of them… Still the last ones only left, magically disappeared when we docked the boat 2 hrs later… strange group behavior…
    Good to know the wind did not help, because I thought we could be saved by the wind had it come back…

    • Kathy says:

      Laers, I SO understand your story! And I feel for what you went through with those biting flies. It IS like the movie “The Birds” when this happens. You can feel like you’ve entered some sort of horror movie. Glad you survived, and hope it doesn’t sour you on boating on Lake Superior. Those flies are so fickle!

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