Ah, summer! Fresh tomatoes, sweet corn, and oodles and oodles of crawly things.
I’m relatively tolerant of bugs. Most bugs I try to escort outside. Ants I have learned to kill on sight in the house – not because I want to but because I’ve learned the hard way what happens if you don’t kill the scouts immediately. I kind of like big ants when they’re not in the house. They’re big enough to be interesting individually, and the colony organization is amazing. Little ants I don’t like at all because we have a history. One day years ago, I found a trail of them leading to the pantry where they had swarmed a bag of chips. You could hear them chomping on the chips. I had nightmares about that for days.
Chiggers may be the worst. I can’t go outside in our (admittedly overgrown and woodsy) yard without getting bit by chiggers. Skin So Soft lotion prevents them from biting sometimes, and Liquid Bandage makes them stop itching sometimes. But what a nuisance! The mosquitoes have been bad this year, too, with all the rain. At least, these mosquito bites only itch for a few minutes.
And the ticks are out in force this year! I’ve only seen a couple of ticks over the past several years here, but we’ve already found four of what I think were male deer ticks on us – thankfully still walking around!
I killed these ticks by dumping them in an old pill bottle, adding some acetone, shaking it up, and leaving them there. Rubbing alcohol is what people usually recommend, but I didn’t have any of that at the time. I saw a vet doing this with a jar that was slop full of dead ticks. It seems safer and easier than trying to destroy them physically. If the tick bit you, it’s also a good way to keep the tick around for identification purposes if you get some symptoms later. Here’s more info on what to do if you find a tick already firmly attached. Above all, I recommend not doing Internet searches about ticks. It’s given me a bad case of the willies!
So remember to check for ticks after being outside in tall grass or woodsy areas even if you’ve never had a problem before.
But what I really want to write about today is fruit flies.
In the past summers, we’ve had serious problems with fruit flies in the house. They don’t carry disease, but they’re very annoying. We assume they come in with food through the kitchen, but they wind up all over the house. They seem to like computer screens.
Last year, we finally found a solution that really works. Fill a bowl near where the flies are with a tablespoon of natural apple cider vinegar (the kind with the mother), a tablespoon of sugar, a couple drops of dish soap, and a cup of water. The flies cannot resist the smell, and they drown in the bowl. Yellow bowls seemed to work best and dark bowls the worst.
I think the necessary ingredients to attract the flies are sweet (= fruit) and fermenting (= decaying) liquids. So you could also try fruit juice and some kind of alcoholic beverage. Just don’t forget the detergent! This year, we’re going to try trub, a yeasty byproduct of brewing beer, instead of the relatively expensive apple cider vinegar
We got rid of a bad infestation in a week or so using this bowl method. We had a bowl in the kitchen, a bowl in the bathroom, and a bowl at both of our desks. After we cleared out most of flies, we just left a bowl in the kitchen for the rest of the summer. It caught the newcomers quickly so they never spread to other parts of the house. Hooray!
This year, we haven’t had any problems yet, but if (when?) they arrive, we’ll know what to do!
And, tomorrow, I promise to return to more appetizing blog fare.