I think they came in with the strawberries. Sure, it might have been the vermi composter, that wooden box of live worms and decomposition in the corner of the kitchen, that attracted them. Or maybe the litter boxes, enough of them to accommodate four cats — which I realize is far too many cats. Or what about the tiny succulent plants on the countertop? It could have been them.
But if you ask me, and truly no one has, the fruit flies came in with the strawberries: two big buckets of them, procured straight from the farm for Mother’s Day. They spent a couple of days on the countertop, festering with fruit-fly eggs no doubt; we started noticing them shortly thereafter.
Every North Carolina homeowner is waging some form of war against the encroachment of the natural world: weeds that pop up through the driveway cracks and on the patio; tree roots that threaten a foundation or growing limbs that can crash through a roof; floods that will destroy a finished basement overnight. And then there are the critters: flies and ants and termites and roaches and stinkbugs and hornets and spiders and these weird little worms and I’ll even throw mice in there, which if these cats were worth a damn, we wouldn’t have any mice, which I guess we don’t.
For us, now, it’s these fruit flies, thickets of them hovering like nasty little clouds in the kitchen, speckling the cabinetry, coupling on the ceiling. Put your drink down for more than 10 seconds, and you’re gonna have to fish one out of there with your fingers.
Over the weekend, with my wife out of town, I festooned the kitchen with sticky fly tape — “Like the Hanging Gardens of Babylon!” I told my kids. I used a hand-vac to wipe out an entire generation from the kitchen ceiling, driving the survivors into my stalactites of tape.
“Scorched earth!” I said to the kids, enough times that they never want to hear me say it again.
It seems to be working. There were no fruit flies in my morning coffee this morning, no hovering insect clouds hanging in my field of vision like eye floaters; they’re plastered all over the fly strips in an organic pattern.
I haven’t won. I’ll never win. But I’ve made things more bearable. For now.