CURRENT TOTEMS ARTICLE
Totems: House & Other Flies, Part 2 of 2
Just about every country in the world has flies, even the coldest. Though it varies according to environmental conditions, the life span of an adult fly is about 28 days. Unless they are in a house or some other protected area, in the northern U.S. most adult flies die in the fall at the onset of cold weather, leaving larvae and pupae to survive. Through an amazing ability to proliferate, reproduction can result in numbers that are mind boggling. Females lay eggs in decomposing matter, in feces, on plants, and in bird nests that effortlessly provide plenty of food. Because larvae hatch from eggs after only twelve hours, and larval and pupa stages only last four to five days before a new generation of females are ready to start laying, just one female fly producing 120 eggs in the spring, could by autumn, have 5,500,000,000,000 descendants – yes, you read that number right! It’s 5 trillion, 500 billion. Gulp! (as per The United Nations World Health Organization).
Houseflies have some noteworthy physical characteristics. A true housefly has a blackish body, with stripes of denser black running along the back, with sides that are shaded in yellow. The housefly has sticky pads under its two-clawed feet, and these pads are covered with hairs from which a sticky fluid oozes, making it possible for a fly to cling. Unfortunately, microbes also cling, which is how they get transmitted. A housefly does not have to break skin to be dangerous to man. If the fly has recently visited a rotting piece of meat, and then lights on human food or vomits up a drop of its own last meal, millions of bacteria might remain.
While it cannot be denied that flies are scavengers that can carry and transmit diseases, and in some cases, carry germs of diseases that are fatal to humans, the underlying cause of contagious disease is when waste materials are available for flies to breed in, and then get picked up by our fingers, utensils, etc. Conversely, flies use that very scavenging trait to clean up our planet. Fly larvae eat everything animal or vegetable in origin, keeping ecosystems healthy by devouring carcasses. One species of fruit fly, also known as vinegar fly spends its time swarming around fruits and vegetables, but also is useful to humans because their larvae feed on aphids, chiggers, and many other insects, keeping those numbers down. The carnivorous larvae of the Tachinidae fly has been used by crop growers to destroy vast numbers of crop-eating insects like aphids and mealybugs. In the chain of life, flies are also food for other animal life, especially for freshwater fishes. And by cross-pollinating, flies are of service to flowers. Here’s an unusual benefit to humans from Green-bottle flies: As a result of experience in WWI, surgeons have used the larvae of Green-bottle flies reared in sterile conditions to clean infected wounds and necrotic tissue after surgery.
Some good news is that the mouth of Musca domestica-housefly, does not bite; it is made only for lapping. Barn flies bite – and they look a lot like houseflies. At the end of summer, swarms of them sometimes move into the attics of old houses. And as you probably know too well, a really persistent biter is the black fly. When they want blood, they will go relentlessly toward their meal. They are the scourge of farm animals, who can suffer severely from their bites. Even in the far north, each summer, hordes of flies attracted by the carbon dioxide exhaled from the breath of caribou, attack and generally plague them, especially around the legs and belly, because that is where blood vessels are closest to the surface of the skin.
In our own lives, we can see that fly will land on us, buzz around, and generally not leave us alone, until we take a look at what this totem wants us to see about what is going on in our lives. When fly swoops into your life, don’t waste time, energy or resources. The sooner the issue is acknowledged, the sooner the prosperity and abundance waiting right outside our doors can enter our lives.
The fact that flies are universally unpopular with most people (and I suspect, animals too, if they could vote) does not gainsay the fact that each of us must listen to our own inner voice and intuition to move forward, rather than listening to the opinions of other people. Do what you know to be the right thing for you. A great example of that was Louise Hay, the CEO of Hay House, who cured herself of cancer, was an HIV/AIDS activist, became a minister, and published her own self-help books, as well as founding Hay House. The current CEO of Hay House, Reid Tracy, says that when Louise got, what she called her inner ding, she never let anyone talk her out of following the path of what her inner guidance told her to do.
We can see that those with fly Medicine are persistent, not to say relentless. They are creative in using their intelligence, and amazingly resourceful. Fly Medicine comes with a prodigious ability to adapt to difficult, unusual, or uncommon situations. This characteristic is especially important within the context of the series of lunar eclipses this year, one of which is occurring as I write this. Eclipses mean change. Change is the order of the day. Some call this era, the time of Ascension. During Ascension, things are being revealed that have been hidden and kept secret for a very long time – and it’s not easy to stay balanced while they pop up. Fly is a survivor, and can help us retain our balance through times of adversity. Fly reminds us that there are always hindrances and annoyances in life. Our challenge is maintaining equilibrium and a sense of well-being despite them. It is now crucial for us to shift consciousness as high as we can, opening our hearts and minds to the Divine in ourselves, other humans, and all the creatures that inhabit this dear planet with us.
Oftentimes, it is human activity that causes a species to become a pest. Major forest clearance in the 1850’s allowed tsetse flies to spread south to Freetown on the West African coast. Since tsetse flies transmit a parasite that causes sleeping sickness in people and kills horses, horses can no longer be kept in Freetown. The larvae of petroleum flies in California live in pools of thick, crude oil left by oil spills, eating insects trapped on the sticky surface. Larvae have a breathing tube that pops through the surface so they can breathe, and adult flies walk on tip-toe across the pools, though they will get stuck if their wings or bodies touch the oil.
Flies have compound eyes, which means that each eye is made up of hundreds of small, complete eyes. Though perception of detail is poor, compound eyes are particularly good at detecting movement, which is important for survival, because an object in motion is either an enemy to avoid, or prey to be captured. Fly puts those images together to detect movement from almost every direction at the same time. There is an uncanny ability for someone influenced by fly totem, to see the big picture and detect even the smallest amount of change and movement. If you perceive a course of action as being true for you, then trust your ability to see, and let no one steer you away from your course. Fly totem can help you identify and implement the vision you have for your life. Because their sight is so good, a fly’s antennae are smaller than insects with poor eyesight. Antennae inform insects about the feel, sound, taste, smell, temperature and humidity of the world outside their bodies. Insects are attracted by a combination of chemicals. The housefly is led to decaying matter by the odor of ammonia the matter gives off. Experiments have shown that flies that lay their eggs in the bodies of other insects or animals can smell the difference between already parasitized prey and prey that have not yet been visited.
It’s not just the female Praying Mantis that eats the male while mating. Courtship and mating are dangerous for males if that species of female fly is an insect eater; therefore, many male Empid flies distract their female mates with the gift of a captured insect, which stops her from eating him during copulation. Some males even “wrap” the gift in insect silk!
Have you ever wondered why flies swarm? A swarm is a number of individuals doing the same thing at the same time. An aerial swarm exists for mating purposes, or occurs when a number of flies hover around an animal or a person, or from mass emergences of adults from pupae.
Experiments have shown that flies respond to light. The light of the rising sun spurs sedentary flies to activity until at sunset the activity ceases. But here’s a twist: even flies reared in total darkness respond to diurnal rhythms. So, flies have a biological clock like most animals do. And this inner clock notifies them when they are hungry, moving them to activity, day or night. So, the next time fly comes around, check in to see what it’s time to do.
For 45 years, Cie Simurro ~ Thunderbird Starwoman has been bringing forward the healing arts and ancient universal wisdom through writing, healing work, and teaching. For 19 years, she has been a contributing writer to Wisdom Magazine. For healing for you or your animal, spiritual training, or to purchase her book, Totems for Stewards of the Earth ($22 to PO 295, Shelburne Falls MA 01370), call 413 625-0385 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org