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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Flies Like Us

Several days ago our happy home was taken over by a swarm of fruit flies. Being the tenderhearted, creature loving person that I am, instead of instantly bombing the house with chemicals, I decided to rid them with logic. My first idea was simple: If there are fruit flies then check the fruit bowl. There was a ripe, softening pear that had been picked at the apple orchards three weeks before. I stepped on the lid of the trashcan and tossed the fruit away, wiping my hands and thinking the problem was solved. Certainly the two or three remaining flies would just die off.

Several hours later as I walked into the bathroom, I saw several fruit flies resting on the mirrored cabinet and two on my toothbrush. Disgusted, I grabbed my toothbrush and ran it under hot water, not understanding why fruit flies would be in the bathroom. I checked the trashcan to see if there was anything sticky or unusual hiding in the shadows. There was nothing except a few pieces of crumpled up tissue paper. I then took the wastebasket and kitchen trash and put them outside just in case they were the source of the problem. When I left for work I opened all of the windows hoping that fresh air would help cleanse the house.

I came back home to a peculiar smell in the kitchen, it wasn't foul or rancid, just unusual and noticeable. There were several more fruit flies resting on the breadbox, two on the microwave door, and a couple hanging out on the paper towel roll. "Why are there more?" I thought to myself as I frantically scanned the kitchen. I had already stuck the rest of the apples and bananas in the refrigerator, made sure there was no sugar on the counter from my morning coffee, and wiped down all of the appliances with a wet rag. I went over to my iPad and looked up how to get rid of fruit flies on Wiki:how. The website showed several ways to make at home fruit fly traps made from plastic bottles, filled with sugary vinegar syrup. It also suggested rinsing out all of the drains in the house. The remainder of the afternoon I spent pouring hot water down the drains and crafting two home made fly traps filled with apple cider vinegar. I left one on the stove top and one on the back of the toilet but had to lure myself out of the house so I wouldn't sit and wait for the flies to be trapped. I was starting to feel obsessed, like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day. When I returned home I had caught nine flies. I went to bed feeling satisfied, like I had conquered the fruit fly problem.

When I woke up the next morning, I walked to the bathroom a felt a fruit fly brush past my mouth. I blew it out of the way and went to check my bathroom trap. I had caught several more flies overnight but there were at least twenty or thirty still spread throughout the bathroom. I was starting to get mad. Even though I am by no means the homemaker of the year, our house is clean and I couldn't figure out why there were more flies.

Kim let me know that at lunchtime she was going to do a thorough overhaul of the house. This included sweeping, mopping, De-cluttering, and trying to come to the bottom of the fruit fly issue. "Check and make sure nothing is dead up in the chimney," I said, thinking the secret smell may be lurking up there. When I got home later on that night, the number of flies in my traps had doubled, but the same amount seemed to be flying around the house. Kim had done a great job with the house; even though it smelled and looked clean and fresh, our fruit fly problem remained.

When picking up the remainder of Senia Mae's toys, I heard Kim yell out, "OOOOH," as she ran outside quickly. "I found the cause of the fruit flies," she said. "Guess what was hiding in one of Senia Mae's purses?"

"What?" I asked.

"A banana! It was so black and so decomposed that the only way I could tell it was a banana was the shape! I have no idea how long it had been in there , but it was stinky and covered with flies."

"That is so disgusting," I said. "No wonder we couldn't trap them all. Does Senia Mae know about it?"

"Hey, Senia Mae," Kim said. "Did you know you left a banana in your pocketbook?"

"No," she said, looking up from her game pad.

"You can't hide fruit in your toys, ok?" Kim asked.

"Oh, OK." Senia Mae said, without a second thought. We had been running around all week like mad women trying to fix the fly problem, yet the creator of the fly problem let it pass like yesterday's news.

The moral of the story is: you can have the cleanest house with the best fruit fly traps, but if the source of the flies is hidden in a toy box you are wasting your time chasing flies.

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