May 21, 2024
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May 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I think we finally got rid of our fruit flies, now that the weather is getting colder and they were going to die out anyway.

Okay, so I wouldn’t call them our fruit flies. They were fruit flies that lived in our house. Rent free.

For people who have no fruit in the house, I should explain that fruit flies are these tiny flies that love overripe fruit or any fruit that you leave out for more than 20 seconds. Also, there’s no such thing as one fruit fly. They come in large, thriving communities, with queens and kings and roshei yeshiva and that one guy who’s always pacing back and forth for no reason. And everyone in this whole community likes fruit. There are no mothers trying to convince their kids to take a tiny piece of fruit when they announce that they’re hungry 20 minutes before supper.

They don’t even necessarily just hang out near the fruit. They hang out in random spots in the house. And you’re wondering, “Is there fruit here? Do they know something I don’t? Is there an apple under this couch?”

So that’s nice—they do help you find food. This can be useful if they come out right before Pesach and they point out where all the food is. Of course, they only find fruit, so that’s not really useful in terms of chometz. Unless you count jelly sandwiches.

But when do they come? They come toward the end of the summer. We sometimes get fruit flies around then. Is that embarrassing? It means we eat fruit. Well, no. Actually, it means we buy fruit. I blame my wife, because she’s the one who keeps buying the fruit. I never buy fruit. Rosh Hashanah—that’s it. Once a year. And it’s always something our fruit flies have never seen before. Sometimes it has spikes.

So what do we do? Well, the best idea, if you have fruit flies and can’t figure out what they’re eating, is to move. But don’t count on actually selling your house, because it’s not easy to hide a fruit fly problem. You can’t just shove them in a closet when people come in.

Flyswatters aren’t great, because the fly has to be standing on something for it to work. You can’t just whack it through the air as it passes you.

“Where’d it go?”

“I think I hit it across the room.”

You can always just turn on the vacuum cleaner and pull them right out of the air. That’s kind of fun. Then you just have a vacuum cleaner bag full of flies you’re not sure are dead.

Step two is to burn the vacuum cleaner.

So what some people recommend, and what I generally do, is I set up a trap. I take a Gatorade bottle and put some grape juice and vinegar at the bottom and a funnel at the top. The flies come in through the funnel, and they can’t find their way out. Because apparently, figuring out how to leave the way you just came in is harder than finding a lone grape under a couch. So the flies fly around in there for a little bit, and then they give up and commit suicide in the grape juice. Which is definitely one of the best ways to go—covered in grape juice.

But this seems to be the most effective trap. There was one summer that I bought a sticky trap—a really sticky cardboard pole that sat upright on the counter for several weeks—and the kids kept getting stuck to it. Not even all the kids were mine. I caught like 10 kids. I didn’t even want more kids. So now I do the funnel thing.

But sometimes I look at the trap, and we have flies walking around the inside of the bottle, trying to figure out how to get out, and I kind of feel bad for them. And then there are flies walking around on the outside of the bottle, trying to figure out how to get in. I don’t even feel bad for those guys. They talk about survival of the fittest, but you know who’s surviving? The ones who can’t figure out how to fly into the deathtrap but keep trying anyway.

You know what it is? It’s the grape juice. It’s a kiddush, so everyone shows up. If you wanted to catch men—like if you have too many men in your shul—you can set up a trap by putting out grape juice in the multi-purpose room, and maybe some vinegar with herring in it. And maybe something sticky and mezonos. And the guys will come, they’ll eat, and they won’t be able to figure out how to get back out the door, no matter how many kids their wives send in to get them.

But in the end, I don’t know if we actually got rid of our fruit flies, or if the change in weather did. I think it’s possible the trap was constantly luring more into the house. I also don’t think it’s a coincidence that the flies left around the same time that we started sending our kids back to school. With fruit secretly hidden in their knapsacks.

By Mordechai Schmutter

 Mordechai Schmutter is a freelance writer and a humor columnist for Hamodia, The Jewish Press and, among others. He also has five books out and does stand-up comedy. You can contact him at [email protected].


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