However, I was promised rotting organic matter to partake in this storytelling session.
According to oral legend, shared by my ancestors, the housefly legacy can be traced back to the end of the Cenozoic Era, beginning some sixty-six million years ago. This follows the extinction of the dinosaurs and our family has been taught that two progenitors were hatched out of the last batch of some rotten pterodactyl eggs.
Two houseflies from these eggs met while attending a barbecue at a gathering of Early Man, who were feasting on slabs of Woolly Mammoth and Sabre Tooth Tiger (which had been preserved by the Ice Age). Legend has it that the flies married, mated and laid 600 eggs over carrion, decomposed food and fecal matter. This was the start of the ‘’Housefly Baby Boom.”
Evolving from fertilized eggs to becoming full adults took newborns seven days. During the Stone Age, all flies were required to go through basic training where they learned such skills as hanging upside down on the ceiling of a cave and decomposing organic matter.
With the ancient Mesopotamian and Egyptian civilizations, houseflies were treated like royalty and lavished with hippopotamus excrement. They worshiped several gods and goddesses, and were busy houseflies inside the pyramids as well as at religious festivals.
Ceremonial living continued from Ancient Greece, to the Renaissance to Colonialism. During this time, public events always meant good food. And food meant more marriages. And more eggs. And more houseflies.
As the world population grew during this time, and got more affluent, so did the number of people who wanted a more sanitary life—devoid of flies buzzing around them. Whereas we houseflies were once treated as pets and even royalty, we were now the enemy. In essence, we became misfits and pariahs.
In 1803, 3,000 of my ancestors took a daring trip to North and South Carolina—home of the Venus Flytrap. It was just a sick fascination that they had to see these monsters, like going to see a real haunted house. Unfortunately, it took 112 generations of houseflies to reach the Carolinas from Italy.
With the Industrial Revolution came the invention of fly paper in 1895, the fly swatter in 1905 and the electronic bug zapper in 1911. These inventions have created some significant challenges for houseflies and we firmly believe that education is the key.
We will survive, of course, like the roach and the coyote. The house fly will never go extinct, but what is life without love.
Today, no longer feeling loved, it weighs heavily on us. Flies actually clean themselves constantly and can return food scraps to a compost pile. In that sense, the housefly is a good recycler.
Perhaps some time in the not-so-distant future, we will feel the love we once felt.