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 An Encounter with Tiny Things
If you have been following along with us during this fall of 2002 you know how excited we were to find all sorts of vegetable stands in upstate New York and on into Vermont. All of the vegetables were fresh and beautiful and it was a treat to make vegetable dinners. It seemed like a Thanksgiving feast. 

By the time we got to our last stop in Vermont, the days were cool but bright and there were few vegetable stands but one Saturday when we went to an apple pie tasting we were thrilled to find yet another veggie/fruit stand. They had nice looking  pumpkins, apples and some other fresh produce including tomatoes and promised that they were all organic. We purchased a medium sized bag of both apples and tomatoes and some interesting looking beets. When we got home, Ron asked if we could keep the tomatoes out on the counter because he liked them at room temperature rather than refrigerated. I let  them set out in a basket on the counter.

After a couple of days and just before it was time for us to move on down the road, I noticed a couple of fruit flies. I killed them, but they seemed to keep coming back. Now, I know they don't really come back from the dead but it seemed like they were multiplying. There were a few tomatoes left so I put them in the refrigerator and still the fruit flies didn't go away. And yes, there seemed to be more of them. I went nearly crazy trying to figure out where they were coming from. The windows were closed because it was cold outside. For periods of time it seemed as though they were gone, until we got ready to eat and there they were hovering over the salsa or whatever. One night when I poured a glass of wine, they came out of nowhere and several drowned themselves in the wine before I even realized it.

We were traveling and it was still cold (meaning the door and windows were always closed) so they traveled along with us. As soon as we got into northern Virginia and into a campground with modem hookup on site, the first thing I did was go on line to search out information on fruit flies. An article from the University of Kentucky was very enlightening. One fertile female fruit fly can produce 500 more in just a few days and she can continue to lay fertile eggs without a male around. I was worried that one lady could and would use our place as her nursery. The article said to look for food lying around; I didn't have any and we were already carrying our garbage out immediately after each meal.  "Check drains" was another suggestion. The little buggers like rotting food and might find it in the bits of food washed down the drain. So I scoured and scrubbed. We even put paper towel plugs in all the drains when we weren't using them. We still had flies. 

The article went on to suggest that after we cleaned up any place where they might like to breed and hatch, that we could catch the rest of the flies by this simple trap. By making a simple funnel (out of notebook or printer paper) with a small hole at the bottom and placing it in a container so that the wide part rests completely in the neck of the container the flies can get in but can't find their way out. You do need to bait the jar with a piece of banana or a little cider vinegar. We did that trying both baits and seemed to catch many more flies with the banana. It was totally amazing. Every morning I would take the trap outside (remember the door and windows were all closed up) and let the flies fly free. Then I would bring the jar in and clean and dry it good (in case there was a lady in there laying eggs) then add a fresh piece of fruit. Every day in just a matter of hours we would have 20-40 flies in there. This went on for a week but gradually the day's catch resulted in only 4-5 flies---still more than I wanted in case one was a lady. By the way lady fruit flies are capable of breeding as soon as they are hatched. 

We were still catching them when we arrived in Florida. It is nice and warm here so the door and windows are open all the time and guess what? The rest of the flies flew the coop. My trap stayed empty and we weren't bothered by them again. I think they just wanted to leave when there was no more fruit around, but they didn't know how to get out. If I ever get fruit flies again I will hurry up and open the windows so they can get out. That's what I learned about fruit flies. 


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