Wish I'd Said It

Weeds are flowers too - once you get to know them.

- A. A. Milne

Monday, September 22, 2008

Late Summer Warfare

Everywhere there are signs summer is winding down. Trees are shedding leaves. Some flowers are fading. The apples are ripening. The salmon are spawning. And fruit flies have invaded my house.

The pesky critters are everywhere. As soon as I find and remove the offending peaches or onions that harbour the mini buzzards, they discover a new place to breed. Before I know it, a trip to the kitchen requires a mosquito net.

Over the years, I’ve learned a few battle tactics. First among them was laying traps. I would slice a juicy peach and place pieces in plastic bags. Every few hours, I’d sneak up on the bags, slam them shut and tie them closed. Sometimes, if feeling particularly vengeful, I’d blast the inside of the bag with an insecticide first. (Be careful if you decide to use this variation as there could be collateral damage to nearby foodstuffs, plates, children, etc.)

This was effective as long as I remembered where I put each trap and checked them periodically. Unfortunately, every once in a while I’d forget about one and it would become the scene of a fruit fly orgy, giving birth to a fresh host of the ravenous beasts.

A few years ago, I learned of the vinegar method: Pour some wine, raspberry or cider vinegar (malt and white will work too, just not as well) into a narrow-necked bottle to a depth of an inch or two. Make a funnel of paper or light cardboard and insert it into the top of the bottle so that it fits snugly.

The fruit flies, attracted by the vinegar, enter the bottle via the funnel but can’t find their way back out again. (They're way dumber than the average middle-aged Canadian male. We ask for directions.) Eventually, the tiny winged demons become vinegarized sediment. And it looks good on them.

However, despite two such traps in my kitchen, I came back from a few days away to find they’re still reproducing like airborne bunnies.

Desperate, I turned to a technoguy’s best friend, Google.

And there, way down the list of suggestions, was one that made real sense and, as a bonus, sounded like fun: vacuum the heck out of ‘em!

So for the last couple of days, my vacuum cleaner has resided in the middle of my kitchen floor. Every time I make tea, or dinner, or grab something from the fridge, I vacuum around my vinegar traps where the wee terrors hang out. (Must confess I feel like I’m starring in an Arnie movie, waving around a flamethrower or submachine gun. Or a “suckmachine” gun. Haha. That’s funny.)

It works like magic. Hasta la vista babies! The tiny flying farts are no match for 12 amps of revved-up, reverse-turbined suction.

Unfortunately, neither are the paper funnels on the traps. I sucked up a couple of them, releasing a few POWs in the process but covered the tops quickly and made new funnels.

Oh, the war’s not over yet. Not by a long shot. I must remain vigilant. Thus far, all I’ve won is a few skirmishes. The enemy is resilient and resourceful and has earned my respect. It only takes two survivors and a few days and you’re back to battling brigades of the buggers. But I’ve definitely stemmed the tide. So far.

Looking forward to winter though, when I can safely buy some fruit again. And quit tripping over the stupid vacuum cleaner.


Hilary said...

You have a vacuum? ;)

Take the green box out of your kitchen and keep it out of the house. You'll solve your fruit fly problem shortly after that.

Google tells me it's officially autumn.. sigh.

Leah J. Utas said...

Oh, fruit fly wars.
Can we ever really win?

Kappa no He said...

You should totally take pictures of your little battle. The only way I could have laughed harder was if there were photos to go along--especially accidently sucking up the funnels. Ha ha!

P.S. I'm writing a bug post, too. Different bug, not near as funny.

Anonymous said...

This is sounding VERY Caddy Shack to me!

Frank Baron said...

Hardy har-har Hilary. (I like the sound of that - get used to it.) ;)

Leah, I hear the anguish in your font. All we can do, when faced with such a resilient, resourceful enemy is soldier on. Just...soldier on.

Glad you enjoyed Terrie. I'll check out your buggy post. :)

Meredith, now that you mention it...of course! Explosives!!!

Reb said...

Funny post Frank, I needed that today. Thanks!

Frank Baron said...

You're welcome Reb. Glad I could be of service. :)

Shammickite said...

Oh those pesky little fruit flies are extra horrid this year. We had a tree full of juicy pears, most of which are now residing in the compost bay at the end of the garden... but I dare you to walk near it, you can hear the buzz of the little flies and their bigger cousins the wasps from here!
How's the toothache? Gone I hope.

Frank Baron said...

Ah yes, Shammi, wasps are another bane of late summer/early fall. And nope, I won't take that dare.

Yep, the toothache is gone. Thanks for asking. :)

Zip n Tizzy said...

Fruitflies are my nemisis. Good luck, and yay autumn!

Frank Baron said...

I'll drink to that Zip. :)

Shammickite said...

That's your BEST side?
I hate to think what the other side looks like!

Barbara Martin said...

I seem to get more of them if I buy a pint box rather than half a dozen nectarines. Thanks for the tip about the vinegar and bottle. I'm going to try that.

Joanne said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Joanne said...

Sorry about the deleted post. For some reason, it posted twice.

I've finally been catching up on my reading. I love the stories about your walks with Benny, Frank! As for the fruit flies, they are pesky little buggers. Be careful around that vacuum! :)

Frank Baron said...

Shammi, I want to make it clear you were referring to a REAR shot of me on Hilary's blog and not the pic I'm using here on blogger.... :)

I hope it works well for you Barbara. Let me know and thanks for stopping by.

Thanks Jo. So glad to see you oot n' aboot. :)

Dianne said...

Here in NJ the fruit flies have serious attitude - shocking I know - and I pretty much have given up keeping anything natural on the kitchen counters or keeping the kitchen window open.

the vacuum is a great idea but my vacuum is tied up constantly sucking up trails of cat hair and cat litter - they do love to spread their mess around.

regards to Benny.

Frank Baron said...

Dianne, I hear in Jersey they have traps that fit those flying creeps with cement boots....

Cath said...

I love how you write. Did I say that before? Maybe.

Fruitfly wars. Hmmm. Suckmachine gun - I like that. So you can't call your suckmachine gun a "stupid vacuum cleaner" and complain about tripping over it! Have some respect for a weapon of moth destruction.
Oh and fruitflies...

Frank Baron said...

Thanks Cath. I love how you compliment! ;)