Held Hostage By Fruit Flies

I’m being held hostage by fruit flies. Yes, those .11 inch dots of fluttering insubstantiality are more powerful than I had imagined.

I woke this morning planning to attend my monthly book group. It’s a lovely excuse to hang out with friends for a few hours, talking about books and everything tangentially related to books. It gets me reading things I don’t normally read and gives me new insight into how differently each one of us experiences what’s printed on the page.

Then I saw the fruit flies. I’d picked about 8 to 10 gallons of tomatoes last night, planning to do the last of our tomato-related canning this weekend. But the fruit flies discovered them first. They seem to emerge from nowhere, reproduce in seconds, and are reluctant to leave. If you immediately eliminate the source of their initial food source, perhaps the banana that’s quietly going bad in the fruit bowl without your notice, they depart as quickly as they appeared,. No tiny corpses left behind, nothing.  But if you don’t eliminate that initial food source right away, they take over. One overlooked nasty banana inspires a legion of fruit flies. Oh sure, you disposed of it as soon as you could but now it’s too late. Those tiny flocks are plotting to take over.You’ll find them trapped in the fridge, clinging with chilled resoluteness to your ketchup bottle till the door opens and they’re freed back into the kitchen’s warmth. You’ll notice them lift with annoyance from the trash can each time you lift the lid.  They hover on the edge of the morning’s glass of orange juice and the evening’s glass of wine as if begging for another rotting banana.

I knew this was their battle plan when I saw how many had appeared on the buckets brimming with tomatoes. Apparently one tomato, somewhere in those stacks, is split open. If I was gone all day, as planned, it might be all over. So, my arm twisted by Drosophiloidea, I decided to stay home from book group. I’d skin those tomatoes in no time and still make it to help out at the afternoon Fair Trade event.

But then, being me, I thought maybe I’d surprise my family by making apple pie. We have nearly three bushels waiting to turn into applesauce. I rolled out the dough thinking happily that I no longer cry when doing so (my first Thanksgiving away from home was a sobfest due to pie crust failure). But, culinary experimenter that I am, I had to mess up somehow. Take it from me. Don’t use ground flax instead of flour when rolling out pie crust. The resulting crust looks like the victim of pie pox.

And then, because I was already home, I didn’t bother to shower and dress as early as I would have to drive the requisite hour to arrive at book group. Instead I worked in the kitchen in my jammies. Which explains why the UPS guy showed up at the exact same time I was at the door waiting for the dogs to come in. I’m a lot faster than I’d suspected. Turns out I can dash outside, grab three dogs, and dash inside within the time frame it takes for a driver to back his truck in our driveway. If he saw anything in his rearview mirror, I’m sure there’s counseling available.

Now it’s not quite noon and I’m done. I have time to go for a lovely walk on this beautiful day. The leaves are rich tones of burgundy, gold, rust, and red. The light this time of year casts cathedral rays through the trees, making everything ordinary look as if it were painted by the Dutch Masters. Thank you fruit flies. I walk in your honor. Perhaps you’ll do me the favor of moving out by the time I get back.

About Laura Grace Weldon

Laura Grace Weldon is the author of "Free Range Learning," a handbook of natural learning and "Tending," a poetry collection. She lives on Bit of Earth Farm where she's a barely useful farm wench. Although she has deadlines to meet she often wanders from the computer to preach hope, snort with laughter, cook subversively, ponder life’s deeper meaning, talk to chickens and cows, sing to bees, hide in books, walk dogs, concoct tinctures, watch foreign films, and make messy art. Blog: lauragraceweldon.com/blog-2/ FB: facebook.com/FreeRangeLearningCommunity FB: facebook.com/SubversiveCooking FB: facebook.com/laura.euphoria Twitter: @earnestdrollery
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12 Responses to Held Hostage By Fruit Flies

  1. Search “fruit fly trap” on my blog, Laura. Make a few and put in strategic locations, and get rid of those buggers.

  2. Julia says:

    What a funny story 😀 Thanks for sharing!

  3. So good to read your words, Laura! I can totally relate to your fruit fly war and staying in your pjs! I am envious of your amount of apples and tomatoes you have to process! The bear took all our pears and destroyed a peach tree and a pear tree. Maybe next year it will be better.

    You need to know you helped inspire me to try “blogging.” I have http://www.tinaoffthegrid.com now. I have found out that I am not a bottomless well of “thought!” It helps to read someone like you!
    Would love a piece of that apple pie you made!
    Tina or do you know me as Mary or Katherine?? 🙂

  4. Oh, the way things work out when life interferes with our plans!! Fruit flies made my life interesting last season, too. I thought the cat at fleas at one stage, turned out the then two year-old was stashing squashed banana in various corners of the laundry…

  5. Ulrike says:

    I’ve never managed to get a fruit fly trap to work (I’ve tried several different styles). What did work this summer was the vacuum! It’s not 100%, but it will put a significant dent in their population.

  6. Fiona and I have used a simpler variation of Carol’s fruit-fly trap. We take a small jar or glass, drop some slices of banana or other fruit into it, then cover the top of the container with plastic wrap held snug with a rubber band. Punch a few small holes in the plastic wrap with a sharp pencil or similar, then place the jars in various spots around the room. The flies crawl through the holes to get to the fruit, but most can’t figure out how to get out again. Overnight, you’ll have jars filled with flies. We take the jars outside and pull off the plastic and let the flies escape to afflict someone else. And we toss the old fruit outside, too, on the theory that there are fly eggs in it getting ready to hatch. Clean the jars, put in fresh fruit and put the plastic wrap back on top. Repeat as necessary. For particularly bad infestations, it might take several days to trap all the flies.

    • I love the kinder, gentler method of taking them outside along with their putative offspring. I’ll keep your method in mind because I’m sure they’ll be back. Probably when I create all that apple residue from applesauce making. Thanks Glenn!

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