Lesson

Flies in Australia

So, today I wanted to give you the lowdown on flies in Australia. ‘The low down’, that is like information about them details about them. The lowdown on flies in Australia. And I’m also going to tell you how flies will help turn poo into birds. That’s right. They can turn poo into birds.

So, no summer barbecue in Australia would be complete without a certain uninvited guest who always shows up before the meat even hits the barbie and begins to sizzle, and has you giving the great Aussie Salute to keep them out of your eyes, ears, and mouth. The Australian fly. However, there isn’t just one type of fly. There are estimated to be more than 30,000 species of flies in Australia more than enough species to make sure every single cubic inch of Australian airspace is occupied whether in the desert, rainforest, or at the beach.

Despite the extensive fly diversity in the Land of Oz, in the land Down Under, you’re only likely to come across four different groups of flies, which aren’t necessarily all equally as annoying. And these groups are: the bush fly, the housefly, the blowfly, and the mosquito. Yes, the mosquito is in fact a species of very specialised fly, right. The mouthparts of mosquitoes have obviously changed to become much more about injecting, well, piercing, and then sucking blood.

So, why a fly population skyrocket in summer. This occurs because of the warmer temperatures, which really speed up the life cycle of flies as well as other insects, obviously. So, it allows their numbers to explode into fly-swattingly irritating proportions. Their life cycle from egg to maggot to pupa and to adult is only between 7 to 14 days usually. So, imagine when that speeds up, right. Imagine how many can breed and how quickly their numbers can increase.

How long have flies been pissing off the average Australian? Well the earliest records show that from the moment Europeans set foot on the Land of Oz in Australia they were wholeheartedly welcomed by millions sweat-thirsty flies invading their eyes, ears, mouths, and any part of their body that they could get their suckers on to. Their aptitude at being a formidable nuisance was instantly noticed by Captain Cook who discussed them as being “horrendous“. Needless to say, though, Indigenous Australians would have been thinking, “Yeah, mate! No shit, Sherlock! We’ve had to deal with these pesky things for 40,000 years or more.”.

Although, I am sure most of you think flies are incredibly irritating and you wish they would just buzz off–Get it? “Buzz off”.–they’re actually an integral part of the Australian environment and without them, we’d be up to our necks in poo.

So, what would happen tomorrow if flies just disappeared from Australia? Well, I’ve been a number of year thinking, “Pete, they’d probably just cross the ocean from Indonesia or Papua New Guinea from our neighbouring countries and repopulate the country within a few weeks.” Yes, okay. You got me. Well done. But let’s imagine that their return was indefinitely put on hold. Their absence would lead to a number of unpleasant and unforeseen issues.

So, there’d be a cascading effect on the food chain, right? And it would sort of be a cascading upwards effect, because flies are at the bottom of the food chain. So, you may not realise it, but flies are actually an integral part of the ecosystem because they feed so many other animals like spiders, reptiles, frogs, and birds, and other insects, and those animals would all be affected and they may die off. Animals that feed on these flies would all die if they no longer had food.

As this famine started picking up pace and more and more bodies started dropping–“dropping like flies” you might say–there would be no flies to lay their eggs on the carcasses of these dead animals as well as the poo that these animals had deposited prior to kicking the bucket, prior to dying. And normally, these eggs would hatch into larvae, into maggots, and then consume the poo or the rotting carcasses of these animals, and then themselves grow into nice juicy flies that can continue the cycle of life as they get eaten by birds or spiders, etc..

So, that is why flies in Australia may be an incredibly irritating pest, you may have to swat your face a little bit when you get here and it’s summer time, but they are definitely an important part of the ecosystem in Australia, and we should all be thankful that we have flies here, because without them, we’d be up to our necks in poo.


Vocabulary

A carcass – the dead body of an animal.

A cascading effect – an inevitable and sometimes unforeseen chain of events due to an act affecting a [system].

A certain uninvited guest – an unspecified thing that came to an event without being asked to come.

A cubic inch – a unit of measurement for volume in the Imperial units and United States customary units systems.

A famine – extreme scarcity of food.

A maggot – a soft-bodied legless larva of a fly or other insect, found in decaying matter.

A nuisance – a person or thing causing inconvenience or annoyance.

A pest –a destructive insect or other animal that attacks crops, food, livestock, etc.

A sucker – a flat or concave organ enabling an animal to cling to a surface by suction.

Absence – the non-existence or lack of ST.

Airspace – the air available to aircraft to fly in, especially the part subject to the jurisdiction of a particular country.

An aptitude (at ST) – a natural ability to do something.

An ecosystem – a biological community of interacting organisms and their physical environment.

An integral part of ST – a crucial aspect of ST.

Bodies start dropping – animals or people start dying.

Breed – (of animals) mate and then produce offspring.

Buzz off! – go away!

Come across ST – find ST by chance.

Consume ST – eat, drink, or ingest (food or drink).

Deal with ST – resolve ST; organise ST.

Deposit ST – put or set down (something or someone) in a specific place.

Die off – (for animals or plants, etc.) to perish in large numbers.

Diversity – the variety of all living things; the different plants, animals and micro organisms, the genetic information they contain and the ecosystems they form.

Down Under – (Aussie slang) Australia

Drop like flies – die or collapse in large numbers.

Fly-swattingly irritating – for a fly to be so annoying you have to swat it away from your face.

Formidable – inspiring fear or respect through being impressively large, powerful, intense, or capable.

Give SO the lowdown – To provide someone with specific or comprehensive details about someone, something, or some situation.

Horrendous – extremely unpleasant, horrifying, or terrible.

Indefinitely – for an unlimited or unspecified period of time.

Inject ST – introduce (a liquid, especially a drug or vaccine) into the body with a syringe.

Invade ST – enter (a place, situation, or sphere of activity) in large numbers, especially with intrusive effect.

Juicy – (of food) full of juice; succulent.

Kick the bucket – die; pass away.

Larvae / pupa – the active immature form of an insect, especially one that differs greatly from the adult and forms the stage between egg and pupa, e.g. a caterpillar or grub.

Lead to ST – culminate or result in (a particular event or consequence).

No shit, Sherlock – A phrase often used towards someone who states the obvious.

Pesky – causing trouble; annoying.

Pick up pace – increase in speed or amount.

Pierce ST – force a way through; penetrate.

Piss SO off – make SO angry.

Put ST on hold – pause ST.

Show up – arrive SW.

Sizzle – (of food) make a hissing sound when frying or cooking.

Speed up – increase in speed.

Sweat-thirsty – for ST to be feeling a need to drink moisture exuded through pores of the skin of humans.

Thankful (for ST) – appreciative (of ST).

The bottom of the food chain – the organisms at the lowest part of the food chain, a series of organisms each dependent on the next as a source of food.

The Land of Oz – (Aussie slang) Australia.

Unforeseen – not anticipated or predicted.

Unpleasant – causing discomfort, unhappiness, or revulsion; disagreeable.

Up to one’s necks in ST – to be very involved in a situation, or to have too much of the thing stated.

Wholeheartedly – with complete sincerity and commitment.

You got meused to say that one doesn’t have an answer, solution, etc.