My Nemesis: The Deer Fly

Nature has many assholes. I mean, not literally. (Though also: literally.)

Ticks are assholes. Those little bloodhungry, disease-curdled vampires. Mosquitos are assholes, too. Yellowjackets are super-assholes — total fuckfaces looking to fucking fuck up any picnic you have. Nature’s vast gaping assholery doesn’t stop with the insect world. It goes all the way up and down the spectrum — from the micro (crotch fungus) to the macro (hippos, no matter what Sandra Boynton would have you believe). In fact, one suspects that being an asshole is probably a biological imperative. Ducks are rapists. Chimpanzees form violent jungle gangs. Sloths are cute and all, but c’mon guys, get a job. Am I right? I’m right.

I’m sure if you watched a blue whale long enough he’d make a left turn without using his blinker and then loiter outside a 7-11, vaping while porpoises pass by and offer judgmental stares.

Bugs, cats, people: this planet is just crawling with assholes.

But I’d like to talk to you about one very special asshole.

My nemesis.


Look at him.

Just look at that little bastard. Sitting there like he doesn’t give a hot rat’s rectum.

The deer fly is from the family Tabanidae, which is Latin for: “Hateful Fuckery.”

The deer fly is of the genus Chrysops, which is Greek for: “Christ, Get This Thing Out Of My Ear.”

The world is home to an approximately infinite variety of deer flies, and I assume that each one of them are awful people. Just wretched. They are related to another asshole, the horsefly, who is basically the tank version of the deer fly. But horseflies are fat and dumb and slow. And the deer fly? The deer fly is fast.

Here’s what the deer fly does, and here is why I despise the deer fly with every ounce of gall I can muster inside my hate-fueled body: you’re just walking along, minding your own business. Whistling, chewing gum, checking your email, walking your dog, fidgeting casually with your genitals presuming nobody else is around. It’s summer. It’s warm. The birds are whoo-doo-doodlin’ along. A squirrel is nearby, panic-eating an acorn because squirrels are not capable of doing anything without a veneer of twitchy panic. In short? It’s a nice day.

But that’s about to get all shitted up.

Because somewhere nearby, hiding in the brush like some deviant who wants to show you his balls, is the deer fly. The deer fly senses motion. It senses the exhalation of carbon dioxide. It’s such a malodorous asshole it probably can sense the contentedness and well-being you presently feel. The deer fly launches from forth its hiding space and zeroes in on every part of your body you don’t want it to — your nose, your eyes, your earholes. It tries to get in those places and, when it fails, will just batter itself against you like some drunk bro-hole at a local dance club. It’s all just thap thap thap thwip thud thud flit flit and it’ll get in your hair and on the back of your neck and it’ll bean you in the dead center of your forehead.

And you think, okay, yeah, that’s annoying.

That sucks.

But it’s not that bad.

As they say on TV: But wait, there’s more.

The deer fly will not only harass you for a mile, but the deer fly also likes to bite. And again you think, well, lots of bugs like to bite. That seems to be a rather buggy thing to do, in fact. But take special note of the deer fly’s mouthparts: it is basically a pair of scissors. It’s a little knife and it goes snippy-snip across your skin (or even through your clothing) and boy howdy does that hurt like a motherfucker. Then it laps up your blood like a sloppy Labrador eating food someone spilled on the floor. And then it has the option to spread various diseases to you because of course it has diseases. Tularemia and anthrax and something called “hog cholera” which is about the worst sounding thing I’ve ever heard and I would’ve before now assumed it was some kind of sauce you’d find at a Guy Fieri restaurant. (“New Double-Bacon Monkey Wings With Chipotle Dingus-Crisps, Triple-Sextreme Castoreum Squeezin’s, And A Hot Slatherin’ Of Rib-Kickin’ Hog Cholera!”)

Deer flies are also territorial. So they hunt the same area every day.

They’re seasonal, to boot. For us here it starts around June, ends in July. Which is almost two months of me walking my dog or my taking a stroll with the family and being facially assaulted by one or several deer flies at any given time. I wonder what my neighbors must think of me — sometimes I suspect the true conspiratorial intent of the deer fly is to get me to look like a dum-dum in front of other people. As I walk, I’m frequently flailing my arms around like I’m in the throes of endless muscle spasms. Worse, I’m constantly smacking myself in the face, neck, and head as if for the purpose of clumsy, brutish flagellation. They must see me through their windows and think, That guy really doesn’t like himself. Then they lock their doors and hold their children and pets close in case the Strange Smacking Man would ever stray onto their yards or into their homes.

So, the question is, what can one do to thwart them?

Well, you can cover yourself with DEET, but they don’t seem to give an actual shit about it. I guess maybe if I sprayed it right in their eyes like it was pepper spray it might work, but otherwise? They keep on buzzing and biting. Probably be more effective to just cover myself in lighter fluid and fling a match against my chest. Sure, I could cover up — a hat helps, and if I really want to brine myself in my own fluids, I could wander outside in a pair of jeans, boots and a heavy Christmas sweater in the 90-degree summer heat, I guess? Your own personal sweat lodge!

Or, you can do this fucking thing.

See, deer flies are extra-attracted to THINGS THAT ARE BLUE for some indiscernible reason, and further are likely to fly closer to something that is higher than other things.

So, you create a deer fly trap by slathering SOMETHING BLUE in SOMETHING STICKY and then somehow affixing this thing to the top of your head because hey, congratulations, who doesn’t want to look like King Doodoo Dunceworthy of Dinkletown as you’re wandering around the neighborhood walking your dog or having a jog? Just wear this stylish sonofabitch:


Haute couture! You definitely won’t look like an escaped deviant with that thing rocking the top of your skull! You definitely won’t be added to a variety of neighborhood watch lists! It’s fine!

It seems then that the choice is to do nothing. Or, I suppose, I could kidnap a very tall friend and paint him blue and then duck down beside him as I take a run or whatever. Anybody willing to take that bullet for me? I’m only 5’8″, people. I pay well, which is to say, I do not pay actual money but I do have Cheezits and Tim-Tams I would be willing to share.

(Hell, it’s not even just on walks anymore. I literally killed one inside the writing shed this morning. In fact, killing a deer fly gives me a perhaps unreasonable amount of pleasure. Once in a while one will get trapped in my hair or beard and I’ll just batter the fuck out of my own body until it’s dead, and when I have its corpse, I pinch it tight and parade it around, showing it to all the other deer flies. “THIS IS WHAT YOU GET,” I bellow. “FUCK WITH THE BULL AND YOU GET THE–” And then usually another one bites me on the neck or something and I then have to run home like a whelped puppy with tail between legs and fly corpse pinched betwixt fingers.)

Won’t anybody help me defeat my dread nemesis? The winged villain that plagues my journeys?

This bug that is good for nothing?

This extra-special asshole troll of the natural world?

*slaps at head*

*punches self in mouth*



90 responses to “My Nemesis: The Deer Fly”

  1. Thank you for reminding me that there is an upside to living in a country where it seems we get two days of summer every year, while November on the other hand lasts for about eight months. We do not have venomous snakes, spiders or scorpions and our wasps are small and only dangerous if you have an allergy.
    Of course with global warming, we might get a slightly warmer climate, which would mean a lot of those nasty critters could live and even thrive here. Everything from huge aggressive wasps to mosquitoes carrying exotic diseases, except those diseases wont be considered exotic for very long.
    Fuck you, global warming. Fuck you so hard.

  2. AH! Bless the United Kingdom for being very light on anything toxic from wildlife. Bees, Wasps, Adders and Foxglove thats it (and even the last one you actually have to eat to die from).

    The down side we are on the 17th June and summer has still not arrived yet and technically we never even had a winter. Autumn seems to have lasted from August to June.

    Maybe you can write a story about a word where killer insects silently kill off the human race one by one?

  3. I feel for you, Chuck. We don’t have deer flies here in UK-land, but in Kent we have a particularly nasty type of flying ant that loves to bite legs and arms – and if you happen to get a reaction to their bite it comes up in a nasty, itchy, swollen lump, gives you pain, sickness and even a fever for about a week before collapsing into a crater that lingers for.. ooh, several months afterwards. And yeah, I AM speaking from experience, along with several neighbours and fellow allotment owners.

    Apparently one way to repel mosquitoes is to eat loads of garlic, because they hate the stuff – I don’t know if that would work on deer flies as well but it might be worth a shot (the downside being it might repel everyone else as well, I suppose.) The only other solution is to find someone whose blood they like the smell of better than yours and take them everywhere with you as a kind of alternative buffet. Different people’s blood tastes different to most blood-sucking insects, so they’ll often ignore one person completely if another in the group has ‘sweeter’ smelling (and tasting) blood. That’s why my husband always remembers to pack me whenever we go out for a walk in the wilds… I am the Marilyn Monroe of Bitey Insect World, it would seem…

    • I have always wondered if that’s where the idea of vampires not liking garlic started. I mean, mosquitoes are the original vampires from the dawn of time. It would make sense.

  4. Greenheads (big, stupid, biting flies with green heads) ruin beach days here for the month of July. They aren’t fast, but they are just so dang determined. They come at you again and again and again. Their natural food is apparently cow so we put these big, black boxes out in the marshes and they stupidly buzz around them. Doesn’t get rid of them all. You’ll be standing in your yard one fine sunny day and suddenly something rips a hole into your leg. They actually take a chunk out of you. Nasty buggers.

  5. This is why I am glad that I live in the city. Unfortunately this city is surrounded by water and swampland. Massive flocks of mosquitos will suck you dry if you are unfortunate enough to encounter one of their armies. The city sprays to kill them every few weeks, but that only seems to piss them off. Any of those deep woods bug repellants don’t work for me. As soon as I step outside all of the bugs gather and scream their battle cry “Lunch!”

  6. I think you should accessorize your sticky blue fez with two of those battery-operated tennis-racket-style bug zappers, just waving them wildly around as you navigate the outdoors. You will run a small risk of accidentally guiding in small aircraft for landing, but it is extremely satisfying when one of those little fuckers (insect, not airplane) meets the current. Sometimes they’ll even burst into flames.

  7. My 5 year old daughter was just pontificating on the audacity of mosquitoes. They seem to be drawn to her when we go outside. Well, she found a mosquito bite on her bottom (close to her lower back) and she said the mosquitoes must be getting stronger because they are no longer ” [in] fear of butts”. LOL

  8. Because somewhere nearby, hiding in the brush like some deviant who wants to show you his balls, is …

    Stop writing about yourself in third person, Chuck. :p

    Seriously though, horse flies are awful. Their bites leave the size of welts and the itching is worse than a mosquitoes. You’d think preventing a fly infestation would be as simple as “don’t have still water” for mosquitoes but nope. :/

  9. Ha! We went to Colorado and Utah for summer vacay and flies were so vicious they drew blood through jeans. I ended up using a sheer negligee over my hat as bug netting for my face! Luckily we were in a remote area where nobody could witness my shameful headgear.

  10. Rather than blue cups, you could attach a Smurf to your head.

    (What? It’s a friggin’ Smurf, man.)

  11. My Uncle lived in Yellowknife for a number of years; a place where the new Mounties in town are sent out to the local playground with a shotgun to keep the bugs from carrying off children.

    He said the only thing that kept the bugs of was Avon, skin-so-soft. Deet didn’t work. Deep Woods bug spray didn’t work. But an old lady’s hand cream? He said it worked like a hot damn. I’m not sure if it actually works or not, but it might be worth a try, and you can get it for two bucks on the Avon website (I just checked).

  12. Man! About 2 days before you posted this, I had been telling my husband how much I hated deer flies because (a) they chase me when I go for my morning walk or run and (b) at least one of them bites me every day, no matter how much I swat at myself or run to get away from them and (c ) their bite hurts like a son-of-a-bitch. Not being a person who spends much time outdoors, he thought I was being overly dramatic. As if I’m ever overly dramatic. Anyway, then you posted this and I shoved it in his face and said, “See? SEE? They ARE every bit as horrible as I said.” He still rolled his eyes at me, shrugged his shoulders and shuffled off to do something INDOORS (he does not go out in the summer if he can help it — he’s strawberry blonde and covered with freckles and I think he bursts into flames in direct sunlight) but I feel vindicated! Thank you, Chuck!

  13. I’ve got toilet guarding cockroaches. They wait until after dark, guarding the toilet against anyone who has to pee after 10pm. Sometimes they wait under the boards of the stairs to crawl across descending feet because cockroaches learn from The Feline Book of Assholery. Sometimes they wait on the wall and launch themselves at unsuspecting faces like four inch, glossy missiles. Other times they’ll let you get comfortable on the toilet, only to crawl in under the door once you think you’re safe. You won’t have to pee again for the rest of the night after that.

  14. Funny that you should mention ducks being rapists, because I did not know that until today, when I stopped my leisurely soak in the lake to play duck rescue for an hour. They nearly drowned the poor thing and just one duck after another was on her, often with another duck standing on its back, wrenching this poor thing’s head under water. I imagine it’s hard to drown a duck but I swear they almost did. Next week I’m going back with some oven mitts and a large box.

  15. My nemesis! Back when I worked summers for a natural gas pipeline, we’d spend a month or two walking the pipeline for a leak detection survey. There were days when a single deer fly would follow me all day long. Thankfully, it was mostly attracted to my shiny white hardhat instead of my sweet, sweet, blood nectar. It felt like someone was pelting me with a pebble every 5-10 seconds.

  16. What about one of those mini-tennis-racket-bug-zapper things? You probably won’t do much to thin out the population, but you can at least release some aggression. Also, if you trade hands a lot, added bicep muscle and cardio. Win-win!

  17. As far as I know we don’t get those fuckers in England. I have never been so grateful to live on a miserable little wet island.

  18. I live in Virginia Beach, Virginia on the far south side close to North Carolina. Deer Flies and Horse Flies are somehow more attracted to me than my wife or kids. The satanic bugs ruin my outdoors experience and I dread walks outside. I have considered moving to Colorado, a state with low numbers of obnoxious insects (go do the research). I was in Colorado and had no issues outside with flies, wasps, deer flies, or horse flies. Any way I feel your pain and I always look forward to spring and fall because I can avoid those “assholes”.

  19. Deerflies are visual hunter’s that’s why chemical repellents are ineffective. The Dragonfly is it’s natural predator and deer and horsefly flee when a dragonfly appears. Check out The ” Dragonfly Wingman ” it works great, simple and very effective.

  20. There is an awesome product you can buy from a company called Tred-Not. Deer flies also love tan, and they make a sticky patch that fits on your hat and it attracts them to a sticky doom. It’s not as obvious as the blue thing, but it does get annoying when it tries to stick to everything. We used to have contests to see who could collect more in one walk. Tred-Not Deerfly patches.

  21. From Michigan… Wow. I tried this… amazing results! Super easy. Just to try – I glued a blue cup on a board. Then I lathered up the cup with the tangleroot (or whatever that stuff is) goo. I walked down by the river (where I live in my backyard) and within the first minute it attracted and caught a dozen deer flies. Granted, I walked into an area known for the abundance of flies. I walked around another 10 minutes and caught another 7. I’ve decided to leave it out and let it catch whatever it will. I’ve got another cup on a board waiting the fresh glue to dry… to set out another one.

  22. omfg i hate the fuck out of these little cocksuckers! AND I HAVE BLUE HAIR SO THERE IS NO ESCAPE *swats self in face*

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