Thursday, July 21, 2011

Lord of the Flies

There has been a war.  Battles have been fought.  Ground has been won and lost.  There are winners and there are losers.  And those who survive.

The first wave hit a week ago.  I had just returned from my weekly business trip and noticed that there was a fly in my apartment.  A single fly.  My bananas had been getting more and more ripe, so I just assumed they were the cause of the lone fly.  Yet, the offending fruit were just starting to show brown spots.  I've seen much more ripe bananas sitting on other, fly-less counters.  The bananas were peeled, sliced, and frozen (excellent for throwing in a smoothie), and I assumed that would be the end of the fly.

It wasn't.

The next day, there were three flies in the apartment.  After a moment's investigation, I assumed it was the garbage.  Time to take it out again, I thought and promptly did.

That didn't take care of it either.

The weekend came, and my new house-guests had multiplied.  A half dozen were sneaking around my kitchen.  Fly strips were hung, staking out bunkers in the bathroom and kitchen.  Thinking a bottle of bleach would do the trick, I spent a few hours scrubbing, dusting, wiping, and sweeping.  A clean apartment should harbor no flies, right?

Wrong.

The flies didn't go away.  They only got worse.  By the end of the weekend, it seemed like there were a dozen little buggers around, and my kitchen was in danger of being conquered.  Monday yielded such web searches as "How to catch flies with vinegar" and "Honey traps."  After a stop by the grocery store to replenish my arsenal, I returned home ready to do battle.  Following these instructions, I set out to make traps.

That was when I found the cause of the infestation.

When I opened the cabinet under the sink, several flies came out.  Since I had just emptied the trash, I was surprised to see the enemy there.  I pulled out the can and then remembered what was behind it.  Hidden under a package of paper towels sat a 10-lb bag of potatoes.  Potatoes that had been purchased not-too-recently and had begun to liquefy.  Ewwww.

I literally threw the bag out my front door.  It landed on my front patio and began to move.  Hundreds of flies were began to move around the bag.  I ran back into the apartment for shoes and a garbage bag.  After managing to get the potatoes out to the dumpster, I returned to complete my traps.

A combination of scientific instinct and pure desire to get rid of the invaders led me to try three different traps: pure apple cider vinegar, apple cider vinegar and sugar, and a honey trap.

Apple cider vinegar trap with a paper funnel

Apple cider and vinegar trap in a soda bottle

Honey trap

The final battles were fought in bouts throughout the apartment.  The previously ignored fly strips were surrounded by the enemy, and several dozen went AWOL.  The window proved to be a good ally.  Flies would flock to the window and get stopped by the screen.  Slamming the window shut locked them there.  Nudging the window open an inch allowed access to the screen latches.  A few deft moves, and the POWs could flee the premises.  Can't kill them all.

Bathroom

Kitchen


Now, one week after the initial breach, I am claiming victory!  It was a team effort.  The apple cider vinegar and sugar trap was wildly successful.  The pure apple cider vinegar trap held its own, but the honey trap was a dud.  That adage about catching more flies with honey than vinegar is wrong!  The fly paper strips did their duty, and my apartment is very nearly pest free.  The stragglers will be thwarted by the last weapon in my arsenal: the fly swatter.

In the future, I will be better about eating my vegetables.   

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