Flies and Weather in SW France November 2014


Year of the fly
Year of the fly

This year should be christened “The Year of the Fly.” It has been exceptionally mild and an unfortunate result is a mass invasion by flies. We are not the only ones to suffer, although I wondered if something had died in the vicinity. A lot of people around here have been complaining about it.

I will never live in a city again if I can possibly help it. But there are downsides to country life. One is the mud in the winter. Our car is already putting on its winter coat, changing from gunmetal grey to sludgy brown. Another is the flies.

Where we live is populated by far more cows than people. Where there are cows, there are flies. In the summer, this doesn’t bother us too much. The doors and windows are open and they waft in and then waft out again. In the winter, they float in somehow but get trapped on the windows or buzz around the lights. It’s particularly annoying when they end up swimming about in your tea.

We have given up cleaning the window panes. They are just as filthy again after a day. And I’d love a euro for every fly I have vacuumed up in the past few weeks.

Record temperatures

Météo France tells us that this is one of the warmest years since records began. In fact it’s shaping up to be among the top three hottest years since 1900, with 2003 and 2011. Seven out of 10 months (their report didn’t include November) had temperatures higher than the average – by several degrees in some cases.

It’s somewhat ironic, then, that July and August were among the worst we have experienced in our 17 years here. But, leaving those aside, we have had little icy weather to speak of for a year. Normally, the first frost greatly reduces the fly population, but we haven’t had one yet.

Weather assessment for November

A quick reminder of our subjective weather assessment: we assign each day a plus if it’s fine, a minus if it’s bad and a zero if it’s indifferent or we can’t decide. In November, there were:

Pluses – 11
Zeros – 8
Minuses – 11

The chart shows the percentage of plus days each November for the past 17 years (the line is the trend – downwards in this case). There have been five better and 11 worse Novembers.

Proportion of pluses over 17 years
Proportion of pluses over 17 years

November is a very variable month. We have had Novembers when we were snowed in. And it snowed towards the end of last November (the only snow we had all winter).

We shouldn’t complain, since we have saved a lot of money on heating to date so far this winter.


November is traditionally a wet month. This year we had 96 mm of rain, compared to the 81.1 mm we would normally expect. And it rained on 15 days, when you would normally expect it to rain on 11.

However, we have had nothing like as much rain as they have had in the southeast and along the Mediterranean coast. Some poor souls down there have only just dried out from the previous bout before being inundated again.

The overall rainfall for the year is still above the average. We’ve had 846.5 mm to date, 8% more than the 782.8 mm we would normally expect.

Rainfall 2014 to date
Rainfall 2014 to date

Can we expect a white Christmas? Let’s see what the dictons (sayings) say.

Octobre ensoleillé, décembre emmitouflé Sunny October, December all wrapped up.

As far as I can recall, we’ve had only one white Christmas so far in 17 years. We woke up one Christmas Eve to a complete white-out and no electricity. I would be happy not to experience that again. But a couple of sharp frosts to get rid of the flies ne serait pas de refus.

You might also like:

White out
5 Reasons Why Autumn is the Best Season
Things I Didn’t Know When I Moved to France: Part 2, the Negatives

Copyright © 2014 Life on La Lune, all rights reserved


  1. I think you might have cluster flies (also known as attic flies). We had these in a house we were renting in the Dordogne, and it was absolutely horrific to see so many of them crawling over the windows. We would hoover them up with a hand-held vacuum several times a day, but minutes later there would be more. Apparently, they come into houses in the autumn looking for a warm place to spend the winter, and on sunny days they ‘cluster’ on south facing windows in huge numbers. To get rid of them, you have to treat both the spaces in the house where they tend to congregate (attics, voids in walls, etc), and the ground outside, where the fly larvae mature (inside earthworms!). See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cluster_fly

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the info. That’s exactly what they are. They actually cluster on our south-facing external front walls, where the sun warms them. But they then get inside. Alas, our house is not easy to treat, since some of the spaces are inaccessible (to humans, anyway). And we are surrounded by farmland, which makes it difficult to treat the ground. What nasty creatures. Inside earthworms!


    • Oh, that sounds all very sensible, helpful and interesting; especially for the fact that they mature inside earthworms …. extraordinary! I thought they were just ordinary old summer/cow flies coming in to die, but I certainly don’t want them coming to overwinter in my house …. bl***y cheek! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh dear, Vanessa, the flies sound awful. November is always my least favourite month in Europe, with weeks and weeks if co,d and sludge and no leaves stretching ahead. Here people talk an awful lot about mosquitoes, but I rarely see them ir get bitten…there’s always a breeze which I guess blows them away!


    • Actually, this November wasn’t bad at all, although we had a fair bit of rain. But now the weather has changed and it’s grey and cold. When we get this weather it normally lasts a week or so, which can be a bit depressing. The Camargue, where I went with a friend last year, is the place for mosquitoes!


  3. Flies were also awful this year in our parts, especially after the farmers spread their fields with manure. Thankfully they (the flies!) die off in the cold. The temperatures took a dive yesterday and my Canadian snow radar is sensing some possible activity…


  4. Flies and bugs are such a pain. Not very bug friendly but a fly/bug racket is available online to keep your tea and life, fly/bug free. In India it is available for 1.5 euros and is available online in European countries too.


    • Thanks for the suggestion. I have seen the devices you mention. We have had so many flies, though, that I would be wielding it all the time. It would be good exercise, I suppose! The weather turned colder yesterday, so I hope that will see them off.


  5. Insects, altogether, have been on mass invasion … Shield Beetles in Tuscany and oh, the flies here in France! I couldn’t believe it when we got back to the little house here and had to wade through heaps of dead and dying flies. A cold winter sounds in order to me! 🙂


    • We’ve heard a similar story from others who have come back after a period of absence to find the place full of flies – dead and alive. We get the Shield Beetles, too, known as punaises here. They have a disconcerting habit of buzzing you and then squirting you with some noxious almond-smelling substance if you try to catch them.


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