At the beginning of the week we had a couple of very hot and sultry days and on getting the horse in from the field to ride in the morning I found her legs smothered in tiny little yellow capsules, sticking to the hairs. Bot fly eggs . . . . . . earlier than usual. I don’t usually have to cope with these for another fortnight at least. The bot fly, or Gasterophilus intestinalis as I found they were properly called, hover around a horse like big, fat, flying question mark. The loopy bit is an egg tube and they are doing their damnedest to lay eggs on the horse, which is their host for the winter. The horse will lick its legs and ingest the eggs, which hatch into larvae in the stomach and in a serious infestation this can cause horrible gastric problems. So one has to remove the eggs daily, which is best done with an old bic razor – quite a chore. The horses hates the bot fly and will tear around the field to try and get away from them. There are close relatives that prey on cattle as well – the warble or gad fly, which come out of the animal through the skin when they “hatch”; I guess that is where the phrase “gadding about ” comes from when they cattle gallop around to try and escape the gad flies. I took this picture off the internet to illustrate. Yucky…… but then we, in this country, get off lightly compared to other areas of the world that have a human host variety!!
However, the last couple of days have been cooler and the dreaded bot seem to have dissipated. It has been really pleasant riding with a lovely breeze on the hill and no horse flies, which plague both man and beast. The air has a definite autumnal pungency and in places the rowan berries are shining out and the blackberries are already ripening. Poor old GOS, if he gets bitten by a horse fly the bite comes up into a huge, angry welt and he is screaming for the “insect pen”. The horse flies seem to like the dam corners of the garden by the stream and get “woken up” if one is grass mowing. They certainly make their presence known when seeking retribution for being disturbed! Don’t mow in shorts in this garden – you suffer the consequences if you do.
With the warm and wet I have been picking a few runner beans for suppers, but the plants have not got the vigour of last year. Just enough for the two of us for a meal.
It is either all or nothing with the vegetables. We are still eating dill pickled courgettes from last year’s glut – but no complaints they are fabulous with a cheese sandwich.
Did manage a bit of painting the last couple of evenings:
A variety of wildflowers from the hedgerow – cranesbill ( a tiny one), knapweed and red campion. Must try and do more next week. Day out tomorrow – off to Strata Florida at GOS’s suggestion.