11 October 2013

No Need to Buy Them Dinner First | Getting Rid of Fruit Flies

Daryn has a strange bump on his knuckle which may or may not be a tick bite. By our calculations the likelihood of this being an actual tick bite (as opposed to, say, an ingrown knuckle hair or a tumour) is fairly low, given how much less common the cubicle-dwelling tick is compared to its forest-dwelling cousin.

This led to a lengthy discussion on how best to protect oneself from the cubicle-dwelling variety. We developed several strategies which I would totally share with you except that we've decided to write a book called 'Country Louse, City Louse' and I don't want to ruin the ending. Needless to say we expect it to be a bestseller because cubicle ticks, you know... it's an epidemic.

In other news, a more real and present danger are these little bastards:

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Yeah, that's right. Fruit flies. Ugly, annoying, incessant, creepy-crawly fruit flies.

We're a family who stores most of our fruit in bowls on the counter for easy access, and I always neglect to take preventative measures against fruit flies until its too late. Then late summer gets here and I buy boatloads of stone fruits from the local market, and within three days my house is host to the biggest insect frat party of the season, with drunken flies weaving their way around our kitchen and generally creeping everyone out.

Now, getting rid of fruit flies isn't rocket science; I think every online home magazine and blogger worth her/his/its salt has published a how-to on eliminating those little buggers sooner rather than later. Vinegar, fruit juice, sugar water... I've seen it all suggested, and tried it all too. But I've yet to see the solution that has worked the very best for us, so I thought I'd share it with you.

If you've got a fly frat party happening in your kitchen, the best way to shut it down is to get them good and drunk, the old-fashioned way.

I'm talking about wine, people. Specifically, a sweet Riesling or Gawerztraminer. The higher the sugar content, the better.

More important than the brand (our flies seem particularly drawn to Jackson Triggs; apparently they approve that I buy local) is the freshness... or lack thereof. Here's how it works:

In a small glass, pour off an inch or two of wine (I use our good crystal because why not? Also, it's a celebration of sorts: if they have to drown they might as well do so in a pretty pool, and I celebrate the crap out of every single fly I find in there.)

Cover the glass tightly with plastic wrap and secure at the base. You don't want the flies to find a loose section and get away, all Escape-from-Alcatraz style. I use hair elastics to get a tight seal but you can use whatever you have laying around.

Then, using a toothpick, poke several holes in the top. You want them large enough for the fumes to escape and for a fly to crawl into, but not crawl out of. They're not that bright so it's not very difficult to trap them, but they are small so poke accordingly. Place nearby a bowl of sweet whatevers (I usually put mine by the bananas) and then wait.

And wait some more.

Check it a few times and try to manage your frustration in the first few days when you don't capture any, then be patient. Wait even more.

On day #4 or so, the wine will begin to turn. It'll go skunky, and this is your sweet spot. Fruit flies, like frat boys, are drawn to the worst-tasting, worst-smelling liquids, and when wine goes into full-on skunk mode, it becomes a siren call to these bitty beasts. They can't stay away.

Fruit flies WANT to get drunk, you know. FRAT BOYS, ALL OF THEM. They don't believe in wagons; couldn't find one with both wings and a map. So be an enabler and give them want they want. Get them hammered; you don't even have to buy them dinner first.

Within a week we cleared out the entire herd of flies, without having to refrigerate the produce or do anything other than plug our noses when eventually dumping the wine and little fly carcasses down the drain. I won't lie: it didn't smell awesome.

But it DID work, and that's what counts.