The Loh Life

Summer Guests, Part Two: YouTubing It

Sandra Tsing Loh looks online to deal with summer pests.

So, summer has come, and with it, the insects.  Not the ants - not yet - they're due in August.  No matter what we do, they will come, because our ants aren't even attracted to food.  They just seem to get really hot and desperate, like they're not even thinking straight - their trails are random, it's like: "Over here - there's a glass of water!" or "Soap - we like bar soap," or "Isn't this nice?  Yellow tile.  Yel-low tile."  Last year, I found ants on my computer keyboard!  Maybe they wanted to learn Quicken.

This time of summer, though, it appears to be all about fruit flies.  From every corner in the kitchen, clouds of them suddenly appear like rising gray mist - ew!  Grossed out, I whisk all our exposed produce onto the back porch.  But instead of traveling with the produce, these vertical lines of fruit flies persist on the edges of cupboards, as if to say: "Corners - we like corners."

I start trying to swat them with a rolled up newspaper with high pitched screams, but that is very unsatisfying - it's like swatting fog, although the screaming is cathartic - and then, going Medieval, I Google: "How to kill fruit flies -" "FAST!" the search engine adds, enthusiastically.  Yes!  Fantastic!  "Killing fruit flies" is a surprisingly popular search that yields columns of homemade YouTube movies demonstrating, well, how to make traps.

Over the course of an hour, my children were puzzled to hear - from mother's desk - continuous loud video narrations - in various accents, from Jersey to Southern - about apple cider vinegar traps, white vinegar traps, red wine traps, and even shoving rotting fruit in a pop bottle.  Are they doing this in China?  No.  I love this country!

The thing is that thousands of ordinary people - people just like you and I - are really excited about their fruit fly traps.  And, there's no one demographic - fruit fly trap fanatics range from large male trucker types in baseball caps, to slender and perfectly coiffed urban blondes in designer kitchens.  There's a similar theme of WITNESSING to many of their blurry YouTube tales, it's like: "I had heard of this super-simple technique, and I didn't believe it would work, but then I tried it and - whoa!"  In disbelief and happy wonderment, the person holds up a seeping container full of dead fruit flies.  The counter indicates... one million three hundred views.  Are you catching the fever?  Aren't you curious?  To get rid of all your fruit flies, all you need is a plastic container, saran wrap, a rubber band, and "Cider vinegar!" I exclaim to my partner, Charles, who is at the store:  "Apple cider vinegar!  Bring it quickly!"

Next week: I join the swarm.


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