Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Fruit Flies, Genocide and Human Ingenuity

So, we've got fruit flies in our house. I think it's mostly because we don't have any screens on our windows because the painters took them out and put them in the basement and then the movers buried them under seventy two tons of our boxed possessions. But hey, I'm not blaming anyone.

Fruit flies are massively annoying for such little beasts. It's partly because they are so tiny--which makes them hard to shoo away--but it's also because they fly around in swarms and they land on anything you might be eating or thinking of eating. And then they lay eggs on it. Apparently, the average fruit fly can lay 500 eggs, each of which can hatch into larva (on my food) and lay their own 500 eggs, all within the space of a week. Given those numbers, I'm not sure why there is any space in our house not packed to the exploding point with fruit flies, but so far the swarm has been relatively minimal (although no less annoying.)

I've mostly been thwacking them out of the air with dish towels--which is not only not very effective, but causes my oldest daughter to scold me for being, "mean and inhumane." I've tried explaining how the fruit flies are unhygienic barbarian invaders, locked in a life and death struggle with us for the household food supply, but she says they are, "tiny and cute and all creatures deserve to live." Despite her protests, I have begun researching means of inflicting genocide on them.

[DISCLAIMER] Okay, not genocide really. Fruit flies are not a national, racial, political or social group and, just to be really clear, I in no way support the systematic extermination of any peoples based on anything. Crap. When I run for president of the United States--the only country I currently qualify to be president of--I'm sure this blog will be quoted out of context by my esteemed opponent's propaganda machine despite my disclaimer and everyone will believe I support and/or actively participate in genocide. [END DISCLAIMER AND PARANOID TANGENT]

I suppose what I want to inflict on the fruit flies is actually speciecide. Regardless of what you call the total extinction I envision for my fruit flies, I have been able to quickly find an abundance of devious and ingenious ways to accomplish it. Most of them take gleeful advantage of the behavioral weaknesses of the flies. For example:

The Wine Trap: put out a glass of wine. Add one finger tip touch of dish soap to reduce the surface tension of the wine. Fruit flies are attracted to fermentation--but the wine will kill any eggs they manage to lay and the lack of surface tension will drown the flies.

The Oven Trap: Put a piece of fruit in your oven over night--a slice of banana works well. Leave the oven door open. In the morning, sneak up and slam the door closed. Turn the oven on to 400 for ten minutes. Clean the oven thoroughly.

The Blow Drier Trap: Sidle up to a swarm of fruit flies with a plugged in hair dryer in your hand (sidle up because the flies are alarmed by quick movement). Turn on the hair dryer and put the back end of it near the flies. They will be sucked into the heat chamber and fried!

The Vacuum Trap: Suck up entire swarms with the upholstery or crevice attachment. They cannot escape the suction and it will destroy them as they are sucked in.

I could go on for pages, but I think you've got the picture. All of them seem like deeply satisfying and even enjoyable approaches to eliminating my flies. But, of course, my daughter would be inconsolable if she stumbled across my blueprint for a final solution to the fruit fly problem.

The abundance--the over abundance--of speciecide suggestions readily available to anyone with an Internet makes me glad that I am not a non-human living on Earth. We are devilish clever at doing away with things or seeding their downfall by dissecting their behavior. We're really good problem solvers and very good at thinking of anything that bothers us as a problem to be solved even if it is actually another living creature that is part of a much larger living system way more complicated than we can begin to fathom.

So, I'll probably wind up using the Open Jar Trap. It's what it sounds like--an open jar with a piece of fruit in the bottom. When a bunch of flies land on the fruit, you slap a plate over the top and then you take the jar outside and let them all go. That's right. Catch and release. I'll probably turn it into a father/daughter project.

And then the little buggers or their teeming progeny will undoubtedly come back in through the screenless windows. Damn fruit flies.

No comments: