Friday, 26 April 2013

Saint Mark's Fly

If you are saint you get lumbered with a lot. First you have to go through the trauma of a horrible death, and then, like as not, folkloric tradition will associate your name with some sort of pestilence.

Mating in one of our pear trees
(male to the left, female to the right).
In Saint Mark's case, it's a fly - it could be worse... The saint's day was yesterday, 25 April, and as luck would have it, the date coincides with when a rather dopey black gnat emerges in large numbers. Bibio marci is a large primitive fly, glossy black all over and very hairy. They drift about above the grass with dangling legs, in a distinctly lacklustre fashion, searching for mates. They don't bite or sting or carry any sort of disease, but they can be a slight nuisance just from their sheer numbers if you are outdoors in late April/early May.

A female rests on a plantain bud.
Saint Mark's Fly, as it is known, is easy to identify because of its size and because it is completely black. Males are smaller than females, but have huge hairy eyes. Females have much larger bodies but miniscule pin heads with tiny eyes.
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Health News: I am suffering from one of my periodic bouts of laryngitis. I can't speak above a whisper, my throat is sore, my nose is running and my joints ache. I don't think I'm contagious though. I suspect it is a pollen allergy -- most likely canola or birch. Typically I lose my voice completely for about 10 days, so our clients on Saturday are going have an interesting time of it! I'm off to develop my mime skills...

6 comments:

  1. Wondered what those little black nuisances were. Sorry about your laryngitis. You need a wire brush and dettol!! (Sorry a Billy Connelly joke) You will have to write Simon some notes so he can do the talking and you just gesticulate!

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  2. Sorry to hear about the Laryngoz...
    my main allergy is birch [and I've planted three here!!]...
    just a thought, have you tried "Miner's Pastilles" or "Fisherman's Friends"...
    I've got plenty of the former here if you want to try some...
    gizzabell!
    I suck them to make a gargle...
    and gargle away.
    Works wonders...
    but are very strong flavoured.

    For the aching joints, make an infusion of willow bark [real asprin]...
    but, have a cup of something strongly flavoured, that you like, to hand...
    it tastes revolting.
    Dosage...
    6 pouces stick, peel bark about 5 pouces down...
    leaving it on the stick, so that you get a 6", decorative, curly ended twig...
    place curly end down into mug and just cover the curls with boiling water.
    Twiddle stick as the water cools to an easily drinkable temperature...
    bin stick, down contents of mug...
    trying to avoid majority of tastebuds en-route...
    follow by mouthswilling with drink you like....
    Feverfew is better still...
    but horribly bitter...
    even a strong flavoured drink tastes foul afterwards!!
    And GWS.
    Thanks for the B/D greetings by the way.... 'twas a grand day... now we are into the wet!!

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  3. Merci pour les différences entre mâle et femelle de Bibio marci.Je n'en ai pas encore vu cette année. L'an passé, elle était présente le 17 avril, un peu en avance.
    Désolée d'apprendre vos ennuis de santé, mais je vois que vos amis vous donnent d'excellentes recettes. Moi j'utilise du jus de citron avec un bon miel. Ce n'est peut être pas efficace , mais très bon au goût!

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  4. Tim: I have feverfew and you are right -- it's disgusting.

    Lucie: yes, last year they were very numerous too.

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  5. Sorry to hear you are not well,when I worked with all the children, I would sometimes get laryngitis when they all had the Flu.A mixture of Honey and butter, taken in tiny tastes to let it coat the throat was very soothing and helped the raspey,raw feeling.
    It was nothing short of amazing to see the sudden spread of "scratchy throat" among the little ones as soon as the honey and butter appeared.....they would spend the next hour furiously mixing and licking spoons, till they felt better!

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  6. I'd try a tot of whisky or brandy with some honey.

    I've no idea whether it is good for laryngitis, but a large enough tot should help you to feel less discomfort :o)

    Seriously, hope you are feeling better soon.

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