Posted by: Debbie Abrams Kaplan | July 26, 2020

Cluster F***s

Guest post from Mark Kaplan

Since moving to New Jersey, a favorite pastime in the Kaplan household is: what insect is invading our house today? The great thing about New Jersey is there are so many options to choose from: ants, moths, bees, wasps, hornets, millipedes, and flies. And it’s not just flies, it’s what kind of fly – we are blessed with so many types of flies in NJ that we’ve become something of connoisseurs. There is your standard house fly of course, and your fruit fly, which tend to live in our glass jar where we keep scraps bound for the compost bin. We’ve more recently become acquainted with the drain fly – which live in our bathroom drain, eating God knows what (hair and toothpaste? Yum!). We had some success killing the drain flies with boiling water, vinegar, and baking soda – kind of like your elementary school science project run amok – but they invariably come back. Killing the drain flies at least gives us something to do while brushing our teeth, when we’re not reading the Star Tracks articles from People.

Used under Creative Commons. By TristramBrelstaff – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,

But today’s pest is – wait for it – cluster flies. Yes, that’s what you thought F***s stood for, right? So what are cluster flies? Well, they are harmless, they like to congregate on windows, and they’re slow, meaning they are reasonably easy to kill. But they are large, and last year we got dozens at a time, so they are a definite nuisance. Also, killing them invariably means biding your time waiting for the right trajectory with your fly swatter. Just like Hamilton, we don’t want to waste our shot.

We first got to experience the joy of cluster flies last fall. Although we could never identify the source – we suspected the basement – they finally did go away. Well, today they’re baaaack. And since the basement is my new home office, I get to experience a lot of them.

At least I have a new weapon in my armamentarium – our Dyson vacuum cleaner. Yep, put on the flat seam brush – normally used to clean between sofa cushions – and suck those babies right down. It’s much more efficient, since the suck gives you greater margin for error, and at least for now, the novelty is kind of entertaining, although I can’t vouch for whether they are actually dead inside the vacuum cleaner, or just hanging out enjoying the dust bunnies. I suppose if I see them shooting out the nozzle I’ll have my answer.

Used with permission from Your Best Digs.


  1. I spray Windex at them, keeps them grounded for me to scoop them up with a paper towel. My windows have never been so clean! Good luck

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