Sunday, October 19, 2008

Outwitting Drosophila, Barely

I eat unholy quantities of fruit, and somewhere along the way a group of fruit flies came home from the grocery store and established a thriving colony in and around the counter area where I keep bananas, pears, and apples. I bought the fruit for myself, not for tiny swarming flies, so what to do?

They're too small to kill one by one, and besides, life is too short to be spent smushing flies in one's fingers. I don't want to spray insecticides on the very food I intend to eat. These flies will simply not listen to reason, and their fear response is to swarm for a few seconds before forgetting what startled them and returning to munching on whatever is fruitiest, so they're essentially too dumb to scare away. And they're too small to arouse the cats' predatory interest.

Give up on fruit? Burn down the house? I found something that seems to have worked: I hid away all the fruit and other sweets and then loaded the dishwasher with sugar-soiled dishes -- they're very strongly drawn to the last traces of red wine in a glass, for example -- but left the dishwasher door open. Once I was sure that nearly all of them had clustered inside the dishwasher, I quickly closed the door and went all Noah's Flood on their asses by turning it to HIGH HOT.

Any rainbow you see is purely incidental and should not be construed as a promise I won't do it again to finish off the few who managed to escape the first round.

I trust I represented our species well.


Lirone said...

I like your solution, though it´s fairly dramatic! I find the best way to deal with the problem is to ensure all fruit is kept in completely sealed containers - after about a week of this, all the critters have died off without reproducing and the problem is gone, after which I tend to get a bit more relaxed until the problem builds up again.

Lirone said...

actually, make that "all food" just to be on the safe side!

Free Music said...

yeah safe side indeed

Dale said...

Lirone, good point. I could just put the fruit away, but then what would I use for my still lifes? The counter looks so bare without fruit.

Actually that's where things stand now. I've packed most of the fruit into the refrigerator and put some in a closed cupboard. The last few flies are finding less and less.

Martin R. said...

Dale, I find your ingenuity to be, as always, admirable. If those pesky flies do return you could try a method that I have always found effective in similar circumstances. Rather than resorting to hiding your fruit, with the inevitable and deleterious effect that this has on your still life painting, try, instead, to empty a medium-sized bucket of spiders over the fruit bowl.

This technique has a number of benefits. The first is that the spiders make short work of the flies. Secondly, the spiders will remain hiding amongst the fruit and this will prevent any future fruit fly infestations. Thirdly, your fruit will also be safe against pilfering from any arachnophobes in the household. In fact this technique is the fundamental backbone to my poorly selling diet book “The Arachnophobes Diet”, which reduces food consumption of the dieter by having it guarded by bucket-loads of spiders. Fourthly it gives your still life paintings an added dimension, slightly gothic perhaps, but I think we would all agree that a finely rendered painting of a fruit bowl overflowing with spiders is an enchanting addition to most households.

Dale said...

Martin, bucket of spiders? Bucket of spiders! Yes! Why on earth did this not occur to me before??! The best ideas are always the most obvious ones and/or the ones that involve a bucket of spiders.

It's not as though it would be difficult. Western Oregon is overloaded with small spiders -- so overloaded with small spiders, in fact, that no one seems to know what they're all feeding on. Each other? Wayfaring Washingtonians and Californians? Salmon? Chihuahuas? The least among us? In truth, we don't want to know.