Thursday, September 12, 2019

Fruit Flies

            Kim and I often enjoy a glass of wine with dinner. Lately we are not the only ones enjoying that glass of wine.

            Don’t get me wrong – Kim and I enjoy the natural world, even insects, as Kim’s photographs illustrate. Fruit flies may be an exception. I’ve occasionally wondered whether St. Francis would swat a mosquito, and now, how he would deal with fruit flies who attack his wine.

            I have some experience with fruit flies. During my sophomore year in college I took a course in Evolution, and I recall doing some sort of experiment involving fruit flies. I’m not sure it was the same species as is harassing my wine, but it’s close enough. I’m not sure what we did to them in the lab back in 1962, but I probably put some sort of bad karma into the insect world, and it’s circling back at me now, possibly as delayed revenge.

            What to do? I tried clapping my hands over the wine glass, hoping to smash a few as they lifted off, but they are quick and elusive, and the few that I squashed would drop into the wine. We picked up some of the plastic lids you get for to-go drinks, but that compromises the elegance of the wine experience, which, as I learned from Kim, involves the quality of the glass as well as the wine. At the suggestion of a friend we set out a plate that combines vinegar and dish soap, and that got a few of them. Then we purchased a pair of table-top fruit fly traps that look like small plastic apples. Pour in the liquid that comes with the kit and you have something that captures and kills a few more – though it does not add to the elegance of the dinner table. Nor did the dish of soap and vinegar sprinkled with fruit fly corpses. I suggested lighting the candles on the table, hoping they would be drawn to the light, but they were too smart for that.

            Why so many fruit flies? For one thing, they are small enough to squeeze in through the screens in our windows, something it took us a while to understand. Also, our neighbor, Karen, did some research that suggested that cherry growers in Turkey were undercutting our prices here in northern Michigan, so growers were just leaving cherries to rot on the trees, leading to the population explosion. It might be time for another tariff . . .. Nancy, another neighbor, said it happens at this time every year, and her husband said that fruit flies like his Southern Comfort as much as our wine. Fruit flies appear to be alcoholics.

            After a week or so, the plague of fruit flies has abated somewhat. It may be those red plastic apples, or it may have to do with the cobwebs that I have been removing with less enthusiasm. It may be a result of their flying while drunk. 

            I believe that my fruit fly experience qualifies as a First World Problem, a step or two behind hurricanes, starvation, war, global warming, and mortality itself. Fair enough. But part of my spiritual growth includes a commitment to “being present,” and this week, that means being present with fruit flies.

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