Tales & images from life as me…

TIA Tales – Dudus

A dudu is a bug or insect in Swahili. Having just been on safari, the presence of all sorts of bizarre insects that I live alongside everyday was firmly brought to my attention. As much as I don’t want to put anyone off coming to this incredible continent, there are simply too many good stories about said creatures to avoid the subject! Since there are so very many insects around, this week’s column will focus on flies, bet you never thought you’d find flies as a subject matter entertaining – you’ll be surprised.

With our recent trip in mind, I think I have to start with tsetse flies. For those of you not from round here these are similar to a regular fly but have fatter bodies and an evil little probe which they use to sink into unsuspecting flesh. They also have a revolting way of sitting on the window and gyrating their bodies against it, often with their little fly tongues out, as though they are simulating sex – hence my calling them the tsexy tsetses! Their bite hurts like hell and can last quite some time, plus they potentially carry tsetse fever or sleeping sickness so they are really not friends.

Enter me, Damien, his brother (Oli), my brother (J), and a mate of ours from school (Nick), all in Damien’s car introducing J and Nick to the Serengeti. Bear in mind my brother had taken seven years to visit me in Africa because of his distaste for bugs and diseases just like those I describe above! Almost as soon as we enter the Western corridor the flies are on us. I have never seen so many. Seriously. The car was absolutely covered and every time the windows were cautiously lowered to allow the telescopic camera lenses to peak out at game along the way several sneaky characters would find their way in. Armed only with flip-flops (incidentally these are highly efffective weapons) the boys flapped about crushing the enigmatic little bloodsuckers, resulting in comedic frogs-in-a-box scenes. At the peak of the action Oli exclaimed ‘oh my God they’re doing it on the wing mirror and watching themselves! They’re actually reproducing in front of us. That’s just disrespectful!’

The tsetse fly is not the only fly we worry about here though. My latest encounter with a Nairobi fly has left me scarred for life, literally! The little bugs look like a cross between an ant and a fly and have two red (or orange sometimes) stripes on their backs. They don’t bite or suck your blood, it’s their blood you have to worry about. It’s actually acid. No problem if you don’t squash them but very nasty if you do, and especially nasty if, like me, you cross your legs whilst one is on your thigh!

That’s right, acid all over the inside of my thighs and no idea it had happened until the burning started. It was seriously agony, and kind of embarrassing as I was forced to walk cowboy style until the blisters went down. If you pop the blisters they contain more acid and they spread the burns further so I couldn’t risk it! Two months on, I now have two red stripes left as a reminder. You can imagine how much my brother loved that story. He spent the first few days of his trip checking everywhere for them! Luckily we rarely see them in Tanzania.

Now let me introduce you to the Mango fly. This stealthy little blighter loves warm damp clothes. It snuggles in to clothing that’s been left out to dry and lays its eggs. But that’s not the bad part. A few days later the eggs hatch and burrow under the wearer’s skin, forming a lump which grows, gets sore and later fully formed flies emerge- beautiful! The only real safeguard is to iron your clothes. If you think you hate ironing in the UK try doing in the boiling temperatures of Africa where you even have to iron your pants.

Since we’re on flies anyway, I must also mention the sausage fly – the most pointless fly ever to be created (and let’s face it a lot of them seem pretty pointless!). The life of the sausage fly involves developing it’s wings only to find that later that day they fall off and it’s nasty little sausage body is left squirming on the floor! I have not bothered to research the meaning of their life, I’m far to busy working out mine, but I really don’t get it!

I had to laugh when J, poised with flip flop in hand ready to crush a new victim, paused long enough to realize it was just a house fly. He lowered the flip flop to introduce himself and offer the fly a seat, leaning back in satisfaction saying ‘oh, how I missed the common fly!’

And then there’s the magic fire fly, who frankly saves the species from being all bad. These fairy-like creatures emit their little hopeful green lights amongst the grasses of africa and always make me smile.

I am sure loads of you have experienced funny insect tales – please feel free to share them on here, we’d love to hear! Until next week…


4 responses

  1. Jaleen Fuller

    Seriously Mel, ignorance is bliss! Did not need to know about the Nairobi nor the Mango fly! Yuck, don’t know which is worse!!! I am now going to delete those facts from my memory banks, and live blissfully unaware of the gogo’s around me. Do you remember the South African term with the “g” sound in the back of your throat with the flem added? (That was something for nothing). But seriously, I did not think someone could top my story of the wasp that climbed up my pants and stung me 4 times on my bum! Pole for you my friend xo

    January 20, 2012 at 8:55 pm

    • ha ha – sorry Jaleen! Great to see your comment on here though – made me smile. Hope you don’t mind the new snakes one!

      January 26, 2012 at 10:33 am

  2. 3lln

    Love it! To add to your bug information pack (and if the “sausage” fly is what I think it is) then usually the locals collect these menaces to society, fry ’em, and eat ’em. Yes, they’re considered tasty, like the grasshopper! I wouldn’t know; I have a thing about eating things that look right back at me as I bring ’em to my mouth.

    January 21, 2012 at 8:23 pm

    • Hmm, an excellent addition, thanks Ellen. I forgot about the little bags of grasshoppers kids seem to like to munch on – ew!

      January 26, 2012 at 10:32 am

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