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Just call me the Lord of the Fruit Flies

A fruit fly is just about the most insignificant living creature imaginable. They are the very definition of a pest – briefly annoying, basically harmless. Sort of like Don Cherry. But here's the thing about fruit flies — there is never just one.

A fruit fly is just about the most insignificant living creature imaginable. They are the very definition of a pest – briefly annoying, basically harmless. Sort of like Don Cherry.

But here's the thing about fruit flies — there is never just one. If you see one fruit fly in your house, you can be reasonably sure that there is another one somewhere, likely more than one, and frequently a lot more than one. Fruit flies are like snowflakes. Singularly, they're nothing. Collectively, they can shut down your city (snow), or infest your home (flies).

Let me tell you a story about fruit flies. It's a horror story, so if you're squeamish, turn the page.

I had noticed quite a few fruit flies in our house. My wife, somehow, did not, but I certainly did. Maybe they were attracted to my manly musk, which to a fruit fly means I smell like rotting fruit.

We put out the traditional fruit fly trap (put a piece of banana inside a container, cover the opening with a piece of plastic wrap, puncture a few small holes in the plastic — the flies go in, but can't get out). But, their numbers continued to multiply because multiplying is what fruit flies do. They lay up to 500 eggs at a time in places like sink drains, garbage disposals, empty bottles and cans, garbage bags, etc. Basically, wherever something is rotting.

The fruit flies became so numerous, it became clear that the word was out in the fruit fly community that the Tougas household was great place to settle down and raise a family of 500. I became obsessed with finding the source of the problem.

A few weeks ago, our deep freeze gasped its last. It was a wedding gift from my family 34 years ago, so it served its time. We didn't notice if for a few days, and by then some thawing had occurred. I was diligent in getting rid of everything, ultimately cleaning out the empty freezer with bleach (now I know why they told everyone in Fort McMurray to throw out their freezers). But, in my cleaning, I threw a bag of blueberries into a garbage pail — and forget to remove it.

Bingo. Fruit fly heaven.

When I finally discovered it several days later, hundreds (or maybe thousands) of fruit flies rose up in indignation.

So now the war was on. I found on the Internet a different trap for fruit flies: pour cider vinegar in a container, and add a few drops of dish soap. The dish soap breaks the surface tension of the vinegar, so instead of just sitting on top of the vinegar enjoying the buffet, they sink and drown. Serves ‘em right.

But that wasn't enough. I launched a second front with a weapon of my own creation.

Fruit flies are almost impossible to swat. Even if you do get one between your palms, they are so small that they frequently fly away, unharmed, laughing. (Yes, I can hear them laughing.)

In desperation, I decided to try giving the little creeps a quick blast of Mr. Clean disinfectant spray. Well, it knocked the smarmy little punks to the ground, several at a time. It didn't kill them immediately, but it did incapacitate them long enough for me to squish them. Who's laughing now, fruit flies??

The battle continued for days. Little fruit fly graveyards, dark with corpses, collected in our traps. Others were wiped out by my great friend and stalwart fighter, Mr. Clean. But still they kept coming. On the plus side, we have a lot of germ free surfaces in our house.

There had to be another source.

Recently, my youngest son moved out, leaving my wife and I as empty nesters. Young son lived in the basement, and even though he has moved out, there was still plenty of archeological evidence that he once lived here. While clearing out the room, I picked up his garbage pail.

Bingo again. A fruit fly fleet, totaling I'm guessing about 10 million, rose up and began to scatter. We were not really empty nesters after all.

I quickly covered the garbage pail with a garbage bag, trapping several million. Still, others escaped. Some hitched a ride on my shirt; when I came upstairs, my wife noticed several flies buzzing around me (I have got to switch deodorants). We set four traps in the vacant, infested room, and waited.

Before too long, the fruit fly cemeteries were filling up. Thousands of little black corpses sunk to the bottom of their cider death traps. Just for fun, I blasted hundreds of others with Mr. Clean, who is now General Clean in my army.

The crisis is over. Now, just a couple of lonely fruit flies flit about, forlornly looking for places to procreate. Not on my watch, for I am the Lord of the Fruit Flies.