In the fall I developed a sudden case of fruit flies in my kitchen. This usually happens about once a year, and is typically caused by a piece of overripe fruit in the bowl. Toss it out, and the flies are gone within 24 hours (they don’t have much of a life).
I couldn’t find any suspicious fruit that might be the cause, but I made sure that I’d secured all fruit and vegetables within the refrigerator anyway, thoroughly cleaned behind and under the appliances, and took the garbage out daily. However, this time they persisted.
An internet search on the topic suggested, as a fly trap, using a small glass of wine covered in a piece of plastic wrap with a small hole in it. I was all out of wine (the last bottle I’d emptied, a month before, was still sitting beside the fridge waiting to be taken out with the recycling), so I tried Southern Comfort. Well, the old fruit flies went for that like bears to honey. Soon I had a cup full of dead flies. For every one that I killed, though, it seemed that twenty more appeared. I was soon swatting them all over the house (or trying to swat them – the little buggers are fast).
It took several weeks of putting up with the bloody things until one day, while tidying, I picked up the empty wine bottle, and immediately had my face swarmed by what must have been millions of the things. I quickly put the bottle down, waited for them to fly back in, and then sealed the bottle before dispatching it to the recycling bin. I hope that the homeless guy that sings loudly at 6:00am finds that bottle.
Finally – bug free!
Then, about a week ago, I noticed a small crawly thing, like an inchworm, only more of a “millimetre” worm. I killed it and thought nothing of it (save quasi-Buddhist guilt).
The other day, I saw a small moth. Then a couple more. About ten so far this week. An inspection of the cupboards tonight revealed several cocoon-like things. I carefully inspected every item that was not hermetically sealed. A bag of flour, a box of All Bran, every twist-tied bag, it all got held to the light and inspected. I found one cocoon in my box of Red River cereal, and a moving worm on the outside of a plastic container that held cumin seeds.
Behind the cumin was a bag of dried apple slices that I had thrown in there after a backpacking trip. It was in one of those thin bags from the produce section in the grocery store. You know, the kind that, despite being perforated, almost causes a dislocation of your shoulder when you try to pull it from the roll, and that adheres to itself so well that you can never figure out which end opens, yet as soon as you try to stick a head of leaf lettuce in it, it splits down the side?
Well, apparently the little worms originated from the fruit. Each worm (answering the call of it’s destiny, developed over millions of years of evolution, to seek out and destroy my cashmere blazer), had appeared to have chewed its way through the bag, as it was completely filled with little holes that were now leaking something small that could have been chewed up remains of dried apple, but was more likely worm poop. (I suppose the difference between the two is slight at best).
I was suddenly overcome with the urge to scratch my scalp repeatedly. Everything except things in jars or cans went in the garbage. However, this is not a complete loss. I disposed of a lot of things that were well past the use-by date (one, a jar of tamarind paste, was dated 1996). So, my cupboard are clean!
Saturday nights used to be so much more exciting.