Driving on Highway 1 from Geraldton to Broome is like watching some 3D Quinton Tarrantino style scene of mass carnage in some apocalyptic-esk movie where massive grasshoppers have taken over the world, and people have been forced to flee town in their cars whilst the grasshoppers fling themselves kamikaze style at the headlights and splatter like overripe grapes on the windscreen.

 

Some, judging by the thudding sound, are the size of small birds. It’s hard to watch, but hard to look away at the same time.

 

It may sound it, but I’m not really fascinated by insects. At best, I wish they’d all just go away somewhere where there’s no chance I’ll ever encounter them, like South Australia.

 

But when you live outdoors, insects are always on your mind. Not to mention on your food, and in your face and biting you, night and day. 24/7. They take it in shifts, you see, because even though they have boundless energy, they’ve worked out a rotation where they can maximise their peak performance in annoyance based on their individual skill sets.

 

When you wake up in the morning, just as the sun is rising there’s luscious stillness. The air seems cool and for an hour or so, there’s peace. But the heat draws out scents and smells which invite the flies, who take perhaps the longest shift of the day. People say that they are harmless, but they couldn’t be more wrong. They slowly antagonise me by buzzing into any moist crevice they can, including in my eyeballs and up my nose and the corners of my mouth. They hover and swarm and when they get slapped to the ground they just get up again. They make it impossible to perform any task, have any conversation or be in any other state other than heightened tension. This makes me a dangerous person to be around and so by default I refuse to categorise them as harmless.

 

The flies are so aggrevating that we’ve even pulled up at campsites in the afternoon and sat in the car drinking shandies until the sun set and they disappeared. And given that it’s no less that fifty degrees in our car in the shade, that’s saying something.

 

As soon as the sunsets, the flies seem to disappear off somewhere to recharge and the Mosquitos quickly replace them in the quest to create insanity. These guys have the timing and inconspicuous guile of parking inspectors; waiting till you’re most vulnerable, leaving it to the last minute before reapplying the aeroguard and then BANG. Stung. And you never seem to catch them at it.

 

You might not be familiar with the 3rd pest but grannies have known about them for years. Once we’ve dealt with the barrage of flies and we’re sat around in the darkness scratching and swearing at the mossies, we need light to make dinner. So we switch on the fluro light in the back of the truck and start ambling around in the cupboards wondering why everything we need is at the very bottom.

 

At first one medium brown moth starts to hover around light. Then a few of his friends join. The next time you look there’s about 70 of them – all different shapes and shades of brown. The next time you look there’s 170 and they’re flying at you (blonde hair resembles fluro light I guess and they’re too stupid to tell the difference.) The next time you look at them, you’ve leapt out of the car in a flurry and daft punk is playing on the stereo. From a distance they’re dancing around the fluro light like pinging teenagers at a music festival, having the time of their short, pointless lives. You open your mouth to eat and one flies in. You gag and spit and swear and become enraged and start swatting at them violently with an empty solo bottle. (When I say ‘you’ I mean ‘I’).

 

The grasshoppers seem to be a seasonal plague, operating day and night to make the most of their time. They use the cunning elements of disguise and surprise to scare the crap out of you by suddenly appearing on your arm/clothing/beer/face/steering wheel. They’re about 2-3 inches long and can jump upto a kilometre.

 

That’s the daily repertoire of our insect friends. The other part of the story is about the devestational floods.