Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Come Fly with Me

I missed a week, and I am so sorry. Please believe me when I say my life got incredibly busy; I barely had time to do my reading at Chevalier Books (I think everyone had a lovely time and thanks to those who came out) and repeatedly put food in front of my daughter. Because, last week, the entire family was occupied with only one job: we had to find the source of the tiny flying bugs.

Last Sunday, Consort and I walked into the kitchen and quickly noticed we weren’t alone. There were about twenty teensy flying thingies, smaller than a freckle, moving purposefully around the kitchen. I said something helpful like, “Auck!” because I always try to raise the level of discourse. Consort said, “Oh, we’ve got some kind of overripe fruit around here.” We searched the kitchen and found no fruit, overripe or otherwise. I stood there, alternately disgusted by the little flying dealies and embarrassed about what no fruit in the house said about my mothering abilities. Consort squinted at the bugs and noted, “They’re eating something. They won’t leave until we get rid of it.”

Oh, it is fun to spend a Sunday night tearing apart kitchen cabinets looking for a half-opened bag which is serving as a Soup Plantation for a lower life form. It’s less fun when you don’t find it. The bugs continued to chat among themselves over the sink. We decided something in the sink was pleasing them, so we scrubbed the sink.

They remained. We went to bed.

The next night, we (actually, Consort) decided it was a garbage disposal thing, so he cleaned out the disposal.

They drifted away for a few minutes during the noisier aspects of garbage-disposal cleaning, but then hurried back to their beloved spot hovering over the sink.

The next night, we cleaned the entire kitchen. First, I cleaned it with my non-toxic chemicals; then Consort cleaned it with the stuff he thinks actually works. I think one of the bugs might have sneezed, but they certainly didn’t go anywhere.

The next night, there were only a few over the sink, looking not unlike those sad hopeful men at a bar at 1:45am.

[Or so I've been told.]

We rejoiced in having bested the bugs or outlived them. I walked into my bathroom and beheld my enemies being showy over bathroom sink. I called for Consort; we cleaned the bathroom. If it weren’t for one of the plagues of Egypt staking a claim on my sinks, the house would look wonderful.

For such small bugs, they certainly ran the show. Friday night, Consort and Daughter carved the pumpkins. I didn’t carve because I needed to obsessively wipe down any surface which might have been contaminated by flying-dealie-exciting pumpkin goo. This was adorable and delusional of me, because our flying dealies were, while disgusting, excellent houseguests, never giving us a single hint they needed food of any kind. No, they just liked our sinks.

This week, it was socially acceptable around here to walk away from someone who was speaking if you thought you saw the dealies heading toward some non-sink place, which might give us a sense of what was keeping them around. Patient as Javert, one of us would tiptoe after the bug. After the bug-tracker would come the other adult in the house whispering suggestions and ill-founded theories and then Daughter, always eager to watch adults lose their minds. Behind Daughter would come the dog, who likes to include himself in family activities, and then the two kittens, possibly thinking this was some Parade to Kitty Stars. The only one missing was Lupac, who I sensed viewed our hunting skills the way a Marine in Afghanistan views a mall-cop. The family would quickly be disappointed, as the bug would bumble its way back to the herd for a satisfying evening of idling in space over the sink.

A week after it began, when I was starting to imagine incorporating them into Christmas decorations, Consort walked out of the bathroom carrying bug spray. It smelled terrible; he looked pleased.

“I just remembered,” he said, putting the bug spray away, “that my house in Beverly Glen got these once, and they were actually living down the sink drain.”

I glanced into the bathroom and noted the sink didn’t have its own cumulous cloud. “Are you going to do the kitchen as well?” I asked and Consort said, “Let’s see if this works. I’d rather not bug-spray our kitchen sink.”

Oh, I hadn’t thought of that. In case anyone ever wondered what I saw in Consort, he’s very smart, he’s very funny, he’s very kind and he might keep me from accidentally killing myself.

The kitchen sink became a non-issue anyway, because it’s been three days now and the small flying dealies are as gone as they were once ubiquitous. I don’t know why the goulash of shaving foam, toothpaste and mouthwash flecks in our sink pleased them but whatever afterlife Consort banished them to, I can only hope it’s being served.


Blogger Sara J. Henry said...

If by chance, they were fruit flies, the soda bottle trap works quite well:

* Remove lid and label from a clean, empty plastic two-liter soda bottle.
* Carefully remove the upper third of the bottle by cutting along its circumference at approximately where the top of the label used to be.
* Put an attractive liquid such as orange juice or cider vinegar in the cup-shaped part of the now-severed bottle.
* Turn the cone upside-down and insert it into the cup-shaped bottom part of the bottle. Seal the seam at the top of the bottle with duct tape.
* Fruit flies find their way into the bottle, but they can't get back out.

8:05 AM  
Blogger Robin Raven said...

Yay, glad to see a blog post. Twitter is so helpful for knowing when a post is up. :-)

May the dealies be gone for good!!!

8:06 AM  
Blogger Mark said...

Hmm, did you have any newly-potted plants? We had a problem with fungus gnats at work (, which we eventually traced to a contaminated bag of potting soil one of us had stored in her desk drawer. It was like gnat Disneyland inside the bag, which was quickly sealed and tossed away. The gnats haven't been back since. We showed 'em.

8:50 AM  
Blogger Char said...

glad it worked. fruitflies are very irritating.

we had a swarm of ladybugs invade...i let them have their way for a couple of days until they disappeared as suddenly as they appeared.

who could kill a ladybug? not me.

9:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ick and eeeeewwwwwwww.

We had a similar problem at our lake place this summer, beginning when we opened up the place in May until about mid July. Each weekend when we got there, we would gingerly open the door, wondering how many nasty flies we were going to find. They were horrible and always tended to die and land not on the sofa or the floor where they can be easily vaccumed but on the kitchen counter. Yes, many hours spent scrubbing the ick away. We also seemed to eradicate them one way or another. We tried so many things I cannnot actually say which one worked but as the end result was the same, I can only remain hopeful that when I get back up there this spring, it is not another fly cemetary in there.

10:52 AM  
Blogger OHN said...

We came home for a week vacation, and opened our walk in pantry door, to find the entire thing loaded (and I mean thousands) of these nasty little flying creatures, that turned to dust when whacked.

We had to throw away everything that wasn't canned and I even repainted because there were dusty guts all over.


12:02 PM  
Blogger terri said...

You definitely must keep Consort around. Having a husband who prevents your accidental early departure to the afterlife has got to be a very useful thing. And the next time he leaves his dirty laundry on the bedroom floor instead of putting it in the hamper, cut him some slack, ok?

12:24 PM  
Blogger Not The Rockefellers said...

we had a plague of our own a few weeks ago...ladybugs.

while a couple of ladybugs are darling... hundreds of them crawling on every window, screen and ledge are a bit unsettling

Fly away home, indeed...


1:16 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Similar issue here. Our house has sold and moving is in full force. We wanted some cuttings of plants on the property for our new home. Our kitchen started smelling like decay and there is no food in it due to moving. Turns out it was the bone meal our plants were sitting in. It was a terrible smell luckily now outside where it belongs.

5:21 PM  
Anonymous --Deb said...

You've got to love fruit flies ... though, I don't think I've heard such an entertaining description of an infestation in a while!

I heard that your book signing went great!

7:33 PM  
Anonymous joanr16 said...

Those of you mentioning swarms of ladybugs... were they red, or were they orange? If the latter, you actually have swarms of Asian beetles that, unlike ladybugs, are quite unpleasant. They bite, they stink when squished, they're far more prone to swarming, and before long you're finding them everywhere.

More info, in case your bugs are the bad orange kind:

or Google "Asian beetle ladybug."

10:28 AM  
Anonymous izzardgrl said...

I too have had this problem lately, and I found a cheap, organic-y solution that I could do fast while looking up drain flies online. I put about 1/3 of a cup of apple cider vinegar, and 1/3 of a cup of sugar in a mason jar. I added water and a few drops of dish soap and swirled it around to disolve the sugar and make sure the soap was fully incorporated. I just left it in or near the sink for several days. I started seeing little dead flies floating around in it almost immediately. I also put one of these in my bathroom. Once the amount of dead flies gets to be too much, just flush the contents of the jar, fill it up and start over. We discovered the cause was a potato that was hiding in the pantry, but they do breed in the scum on the internal walls of your drains, and they will come back. You can buy expensive drain cleaner, or you can use bleach to try to kill the areas where they breed. Good luck.

12:18 PM  
Blogger PowersTwinB said...

Quinn!! I had this same problem...but guess what it was? I had some "plants" from my mom's funeral that were given to me. There are teeny tiny "mites" that live in the dried moss covering the soil in potted plants. My niece works at a florist, and they get these calls all the time! The florist tells everyone to remove the dried floss from every plant in your house, the bugs live in it and thrive...those "no-see-ums" about drove me crazy! Hope this works for you

7:38 PM  
Blogger Pat said...

I had a bad infestation of fruit flies in my last apartment (sadly, I'm currently living in my sister's back bedroom, and don't ASK me about Asian beetles!) and discovered they were due to three banana peels I had thrown away but not taken out in time. Eventually, cleaning took care of them, but for those who hate bug guts on their kitchen counters, spraying Windex on the counters will keep the flies from landing until it dries and the smell disappates. Best I can offer.

4:06 PM  
Blogger Eileen said...

They do love bananas - in the summer I won't allow banana peels to rest overnight in the garbage can, they have to be brought out to the trash bin immediately.

When they get in the drains (as previous poster noted, they breed in the scum that inevitably coats the drains), a good non-toxic solution is to pour a good amount of boiling water down the drain, and follow it with a good amount of bleach/water mix. Let the bleach sit in the pipes for a while before running more water in those sinks.

It's not a bad idea to then pour boiling water down your drains at least once a week, especially in the summer, when fruit and warmth both provide irresistible breeding grounds for the little monsters.

Good luck - there's got to be a less unpleasant way to provide entertainment for your daughter!

10:07 PM  
Anonymous meadow said...

Well, they're just bugs. I think we need to be more casual about bugs- most pretty much don't hurt anything. At our house, I'm careful to leave the spiders in the corners alone and they take care of the overflow. Plus its a lot of time saved all around.

7:41 AM  

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