Monday, June 8, 2009

Attack of the killer fruit flies.

We went to the farmer's market on Saturday and I picked up a huge basket of "almost perfect" peaches on a great deal. I even got a few extra due to the imperfections. I thought to myself, "wow Kate, great find, you are a real farmers market spendthrift. Good job." Then I brought the peaches home and I learned an important lesson. Mainly that "almost perfect" peaches can mean fruit fly infestation.

Our peaches are lovely and ripe. They smell good and they have fuzzy, pinkish yellow skin. They were in a snap freeze earlier this spring which caused their pits to split, leaving a tiny canyon from the stem down into the center of the peach. The farmer kindly explained that this would mean trimming a bit extra from the peach before eating. "No problem," I thought, "as I am going to cut the fruit up for a cobbler anyway." What the farmer did not mention was that the split pit canyon is actually a great home for a swarm of fruit flies. Ick. Sunday I woke up to a beautiful fruit bowl of peaches and a not-so beautiful swarm of tiny, pesky, annoying little fruit flies.

So, along with my lesson learned that "almost perfect" peaches come with the caveat of fruit flies, I also taught myself another important lesson - how to control a fruit fly infestation. A quick Internet search led me to a multitude of different traps to catch the buggers, and being a bit overly grossed out, I opted to try five different traps. The good news is that they all work marvelously.

First, I made a cone trap with a piece of paper rolled into a cone with a very narrow opening at the point. This was placed point side down into a tall jar filled with a bit of cider vinegar and taped around the rim for a seal. Flies could find their way in, but not back out. Then I made two bowl traps, one filled with cider vinegar and the other filled with a piece of rotting peach. I covered each bowl tightly with saran wrap and poked small holes in each. The flies crawled in, where they stayed because they could not find their way out. I also put a piece of rotting peach in a Ziploc bag, which I sealed leaving only a small opening. I propped the opening a bit with a plastic fork, and in went the flies where I could seal them shut.

These four traps were swarming with the little bugs before bed. However I was perplexed as to how to actually dispose of the trapped bugs, until my smart husband suggested the microwave. I know, I know, it seems a bit cruel, but I think it was probably very quick and painless. I just sealed up each trap with a second piece of saran wrap and nuked them for :15 to :30 seconds, then rinsed everything down the drain.

Before bed we put away all of the fruits, veggies, garbage, recycling, and anything a fruit fly might be attracted to. Then I put a pan with some pieces of peach and a dish with some cider vinegar into my oven, leaving the door open. This morning before I hopped in the shower I quick shut the door and cranked the oven up to about 450 degrees. By the time I was finished we were rid of another small swarm of flies. I left a new saran wrapped bowl fruit trap on the counter today and expect to capture more flies throughout the day. We will keep this up as long as it takes, and hope that we are capturing all the little buggers before they can lay eggs and start the life cycle over again.

Tonight we are having peach cobbler for dessert. I expect it will be delicious, but for the first time ever I am not sure this simple dessert will be worth the effort.


Myra said...

That happened to us recently when we picked our own in Yoakum at an orchard there. These the pits were disintegrated and had a small worm inside, but the outsides looked great. We made one batch of jam then threw the rest away.

Sarah said...

This time you had me laughing out loud!! Your Dad is suggesting the freezer as a more energy efficient method of disposal, especially given the heat you already have to deal with in San Antonio.

Danielle said...

I had a fruit fly infestation last year and found that a bowl of cider vinegar mixed with dish soap worked the best of all the traps I tried.

Trudy Callan said...

We did the apple cider vinegar as well. Put it in a cup, put plastic wrap over the cup. Poke a tiny hole with an ice pick. Works like a charm.