Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Pestilence!

Fruit flies, house flies, ants and mosquitoes. 'Tis midsummer and the bugs have hatched out. Between some overripe fruit on the kitchen counter and a bin full of recycling, Enviro-Girl has a serious fruit fly infestation. Her children who were born in a barn refuse to close the door when trekking hither, thither and yon. They've let in swarms of houseflies and mosquitoes. No one is quite sure why the ants have started scurrying around the front entryway, but they've invited all their relatives and friends to the party.

Enviro-Girl took the trash and recycling to the end of the driveway this morning and had dry heaves when she saw the maggots crawling along the inside of the trash bag and barrel. The recycling bin brought a cloud of more fruit flies into the Momvan while she hauled it the quarter-mile to the road.

Everywhere Enviro-Girl looks, pestilence flies or creeps or hovers. Yet she's NOT using RAID or any other over-the-counter-poison. Instead, she's set traps with these charming little half-pint milk bottles she bought at a rummage sale yesterday. They're filled with cider vinegar and topped with a paper funnel--the stupid fruit flies are drawn to the sweet smell of fermentation and once in, they can't get out. Every piece of fresh produce is now in the fridge. Every window screen has been patched. She gave Team Testosterone a tutorial on door closing and killed more flies than the Brave Little Tailor with a rolled up newspaper. Finally, she has sprayed down the ant party with white vinegar and water. That seemed to kill their vibe and now they've moved on to another hot spot. Enviro-Girl doesn't care, so long as they're not in her house.

The trouble with RAID and the rest of the over-the-counter-poisons is that they kill both good AND bad bugs--predators, like spiders, die along with mosquitoes, wasps and flies. This upsets the natural balance of things because predators are fewer in number and take longer to reproduce, unlike mosquitoes or houseflies that are more abundant and fertile species. By spraying poisons around, you kill everything and when the mosquitoes and flies come back, there will be NO predators to help control their populations, making the problem worse in the long run. Bottom line: repel your pests naturally if you can--a few nontoxic household products will save you money and keep everyone safe while killing and destroying those insect invaders. By targeting your prey, you'll keep the predators safe and avoid bigger bug problems in the future.


18 comments:

  1. Ok, I'm with ya but...but...but... THE ANTS. Every spring the stupid ANTS. In my pantry, on my counters, everywhere! Is there a natural remedy for THE ANTS?

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  2. Cinnamon sometimes works on ants, but when it gets hot I think they become much more determined.

    Thank you for the fruit fly catcher - my leaning tower of recycling has me a bit infested as well.

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  3. Any advice re: scorpions. :-)

    The fruit flies would drive me crazy. I don't get them a lot here, but when I do, it's so hard to get rid of them. Are your milk bottles filling up with critters yet?

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  4. I use that trick all the time, although, I don't have any of those adorable little bottles - love those!

    I blew a gasket yesterday about the flies and went on a killing spree......and also gave the "close the damn door" lesson.

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  5. I did the apple cider vinegar thing, but I did it in a bowl with a little dish soap and saran wrap on the top with some holes in it.

    It took a few days, but it worked. Good luck.

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  6. I heart love those little bottles, you scored a good one there, GG! We are Death to Fruit Flies on the river, have a fly swatter on the table and in the bedroom and apply both liberally. Because we do a raw food diet for our dogs,(the BARF diet, really, see my blog) we have to be extra vigilant.

    However: unbeknownst to Auntie M, one of the dogs rolled a piece of his raw meaty bone under the counter in the utility room, during a heat wave here. Fast forward to yesterday when I am sweeping that floor prior to a good wet slosh and see Auntie M turn blue when little squiggly maggots are unearthed. Maggots! In the house! MAybe there were only 3 or 4, but STILL! Total scrub down of room and all surfaces, the entire place reeks of vinegar now but I am best pleased that the little varmints have been eradicated.

    Raw meaty bones have been banished to porch eating.

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  7. Enviro Girl, is it safe to use Borax detergent mixed with honey to kill ants? That's what I use. I wonder if it is okay.

    I only cannot agree with you about the spiders. You know me, arachnaphobe. You say they are good, I say they are evil and here to get me.

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  8. There are little ant traps that kill only ants, and there is a gooey kind of suragry thing that attracts only ants...but don't remember the name of it.

    Cleaning with bleach helps to a certain extent...as does with viengar...

    I've always securely packaged everything that is open in my pantry--especially cereals, sugar, syrups, jams, et. And I never leave around uncovered sugar or anything sweet in the kitchen... So possibly it's Enviro Girl herslef, who probably attracts these critters with her wonderful
    disposition, terrific smile, and outgoing personlaity!

    A rolled newspaper helps...thwack!

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  9. You should post this on EcoWomen!
    I was just noticing fruit flies this morning on my counter produce, coincidentally enough, and was thinking to myself that I needed to do some research on a safe way to get rid of them (we don't own any pest control stuff at all).
    So you, are my knight, er, princess in shining armour and I thank you for doing all the work for me :)

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  10. The bottles are adorable, too. They can decorate your fireplace mantle when the bugs are gone! Well, after the first frost, if you're lucky.
    We're getting ants in the kitchen; I'm cleaning twice a day, trying to make it a most inhospitable place for bugs.

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  11. Maggots, ew, maggots, ew. We had them last week in the bin. The only up side to the experience was a gigantic toad who was hanging out in our garage enjoying the all-you-can-eat grub...

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  12. My mom used to do all those things!
    Also: spearmint gum wrappers to repel ants.

    And I use vinegar for everything. I might as well make it my bug repellant too.

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  13. Um, if the annoying bugs come back after the spraying, why don't the spiders and other predators do that too?

    You can pry my can of Raid out of my cold dead hands.

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  14. I have some cockroaches I could send your way to join the party....

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  15. Often I get stuck with dirt from Home Depot that has fruit flies in it, I tried using every poison they sell and couldnt' get rid of those bugs, this fruit fly catcher sounds like a good idea. It's genius actually. Thanks tons!

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  16. In the village near here you can still buy FLY PAPER! Which is completely gross, but very satisfying. Flies hate Windex, so sometimes I spray and wipe around the kitchen to temporarily discourage them. I think it's the ammonia. If I were more inclined, I would get ammonia cleaner and make a dilute something.

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  17. jennifer h, scorpions tend to be very shy and will stay hidden where they think no-one will ever come. If you spray where they hide, it is hard to kill them but they become confused and come out into the open and THEN sting someone because they have been leaned on. I learned this the hard way. Painful. So if you spray their hiding places, use something deadly and use lots. Then go away and make sure they are properly dead.

    Scorpions will generally not come in the house because it is too busy and noisy. Clear any bush away so that it does not touch the house, and leave a two foot or so perimeter around your outer walls. Spray the perimeter too. They really don't want to come in then. Keep your floors inside really clutter free for a while and search them out.

    For the scorpions who lurk outside, get Gerald Durrell's "My Family and Other Animals" and read the chapter called "Scorpions in a Matchbox". When you have picked yourself up off the floor and wiped the tears of laughter off your face, you will find you have a newfound respect for these little animals, and might be inclined to leave them alone outdoors. With proper cautions to your family and friends of course!

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