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Monday, 5 May 2014

Kamikaze tea flies

We're having some fine weather at the moment, but I can almost guarantee that if I sit down in the garden with a mug of tea, then within a few seconds one of those tiny black kamikaze tea flies will be floating on top.

Or to take another example - while out walking, it is perfectly obvious that kamikaze tea flies follow you until you stop for lunch and pull out the flask of tea. They dive almost as soon as you pour. Or it could be coffee, tea flies don’t seem to know the difference.

A very common experience no doubt, but how did the kamikaze tea fly evolve? What evolutionary niche have they exploited by diving into cups of hot tea?

Creationists have an advantage here, because they may simply claim that God created kamikaze tea flies to puzzle us. My theory is that there is no evolutionary advantage at all. The flies are merely having fun. They lay bets on who can skim the tea without contact. All we see in our tea are the losers.

A Darwin award theory you might call it.

Incidentally, how does one remove a kamikaze tea fly? My method is a quick scoop with the forefinger. The fly sticks to the finger and is easily flicked off into oblivion.

For the upper classes taking tea on the lawn, the butler would do it with a sliver fly-spoon from Asprey. Even more exotic would be a delicate Ming dynasty fly spoon carved from a single sliver of green jade, but that’s another world.

8 comments:

Demetrius said...

The government should do something about it. In the meantime the Health and Safety Executive advises to drink straight from the flask or teapot.

Sam Vega said...

How did they evolve? These clever little creatures mate in the steam above hot-springs. The female drops, exhausted, to the surface, while the male goes off in search of others to mate with. When warm-blooded predators attempt to scoop the fertilised female off the surface, with her dying gasp she inserts her sharp ovipositor into the flesh of the unsuspecting host, and injects the eggs into the bloodstream. Due to the warmth of the water, he knows nothing of this. Later, however, the eggs hatch, and the problems begin for the host...

Woodsy42 said...

I think they are trying to escape from the car door mirror spiders. (You know the ones that live behind the adjustable glass bit and build webs all over the mirror and car window overnight every night).

Roger said...

I fear a silver fly-flicker would be considered rather naff. A certain robustness would be expected - after all one is au jardin. So a finger flick or suck through ones teeth and spit. On balance a finger flick as AK suggests is I think best.

James Higham said...

What is a Creationist? Someone who makes something? Cabinet maker?

A K Haart said...

Demetrius - maybe something should be banned. Gardens?

Sam - you could be right. Do we need special protective flicking gloves or is it too late?

Woodsy - car door mirror spiders are amazingly quick at weaving their webs. Could they learn to weave one over a cup of tea while we aren't looking? It's possible.

Roger - yes, I'm sure one could even do it with the pinkie.

James - I suspect they are an imaginary tribe dreamed up by atheists for rhetorical purposes.

Sackerson said...

I think these are the ones my family used to call thunder-flies, appearing in sultry weather.

A K Haart said...

Sackers - that brings back memories. My family used to call them thunder flies too.