It was nothing like a numeration of starlings, but it kept my rapt attention regardless. How do two fruit flies multiply into more than one hundred in the matter of two days?
Oh yes, that’s right, the pear was left on the counter before we left for the weekend in the hopes it would be ripe for eating upon our return. It was indeed ripe, for breeding.
Apparently the Drosophila melanogaster, the common fruit fly, only requires a gestation period of about thirty hours, which is a perfect amount of time to leave a kitchen for two days and return to a tiny rendition of The Amityville Horror.
After burrowing into anything soft, rotting and organic, female fruit flies leave close to five hundred eggs to transform into something that looks like a miniscule camper swaddled in a sleeping back. After about a day of wiggling around it changes into a pupa.
No, not the freakishly strange Anime movie about the orphaned siblings, and also, no, not a doll you’ll find in South America.
Freakish looking and strange in appearance, the pupa is the hard-cocoon shell which in a matter of days births a smidgeon of a fly. And while insignificant in size, the level of annoyance is paramount.
And once you have the little winged vexations, they are nearly oblivious to any action of eradication. You feel as though they are related to Medusa, and that for each one you kill, squish, drown or step on, another ten rise in its place.
Curse you tiny fruit fly!
Diligence and strategy helps one to rid of just about any nuisance, whether it’s a fruit fly or a relationship of any kind.
They love anything rotting and moist, such as decaying fruits, veggies, soft dairy products and meat. They are wildly attracted to any spill of a sweet soda or alcohol beverage and food left out after a meal. But that’s not all, not indeed. These feisty little friggles hang out in unclean drains to breed too. The slime that accumulates from dripping pipes, or decomposing matter (hair, etc.) found in unattended plumbing also is a breeding ground.
So first, secure all soft, rotting, ripe(ish) organic edibles in the fridge. Cold doesn’t kill the buggars, but it slows down the gestation and transformation phases of the eggs/larvae/pupa.
Then clean your drains and fix your pipes. Wipe down your counter tops and clean the corners and crevices of your kitchen, especial near the sink and where grease can drip down over the sides of your stove and oven.
If you want to use pesticides keep in mind that spraying them inside the house isn’t such a good idea for your lungs, nasal tissues and brain cells. Plus spray residue can stick to cooking surfaces, glassware, or other areas in the kitchen where food can touch the sticky drops. So, can the napalm and instead fight the battle the good old fashioned way, with vinegar.
And not just any vinegar! After multiple and extremely non-scientific experiments, what I have found works the best are three weapons of mass destruction. It has to be a sweet vinegar, but not sticky sweet. Fruit flies are actually gourmands and don’t fall for the generic apple cider vinegar, or rice vinegar. They hate white vinegar and don’t particularly show any interest in dark balsamic.
Attracting them is easy, but they are a fickle species and probably evolved from a variety of traps designed to kill them off. The trick is to lure them to a “pond” of sweet nectar that is so tangy and ripe that they are inspired to take a dip in what appears to the manna of awesome sauce.
The weapon is something that prevents them from ever leaving, like their own private Hotel California hell. This cocaine-like trap takes less than twelve hours and is similar in context as fly paper.
The two ingredients for this liquid seduction is either white balsamic vinegar or red wine gone bad. Pour about 1/8th of a cup into a small bowl, class or mug. Then squirt a small amount of dish soap into the elixir.
The sweet and sour aroma of the vinegar or wine brings them to the rim of the glass and if you’re patient enough, you can watch them attempt to go for a quick skinny dip. But the slick heavy glop of the dish soap weighs them down and they drown.
Set up before bed time and the rewards are about fifty -to – sixty free-range fruit flies “swimming with da fishies” by sunrise.
Remember to dump the remains because the vinegar and soap solution gets mangy with decaying fly carcasses and begins to attract the offspring. And then the whole damn cycle begins again.