Wednesday, April 22, 2009

There's such a thing as "too green"

One of the nice things about living on the 15th floor of an apartment building is: we don't get much bothered by insects. To be sure they can climb that high - but why bother, when there's so much richer pickings at ground level?

This simple logistical defence has served us well for more than three years, but in the past month or so it's broken down. A small community of tiny fruit flies has, apparently, found the evolutionary niche that is our level of the atmosphere. These things are barely bigger than mosquitoes, but very visible and annoying. No matter how rigorous our food hygiene precautions, every time I look around, there are half a dozen of the little buggers kicking back on the walls, cupboard doors or other surfaces around the apartment.

Weary of spending my evenings stalking them with a rolled-up Property Press, this weekend I invested in a can of Raid. Just a small can. After all, it's a small apartment and these are small flies...

Last time I bought this stuff was in England, and I was at ground level, dealing with much nastier brutes drawn in by the inimitable scent of catfood. Then, the can seemed like a weapon of such evil sorcery that I felt quite guilty about using it. I'd point it in the general direction of the offenders, give a brief squirt, and a baneful haze would spread through the room. Within two minutes, flies would be woozily swatting themselves against the window or simply twitching on the carpet. For a day or more, the whole house would be almost completely insect-free.

But either Raid has changed its formula, or the Kiwi version is chemically engineered to be environmentally benign - because these flies don't seem to be impressed at all. If I get close enough they'll circle away irritably, as if to say "Hey, man, don't muss the antennae!", but for the most part they'll sit there noncholantly and lap it up. Since Sunday I've pretty much emptied the can, and I've yet to see a single fly killed by it.

On the plus side, the spray doesn't have the miasmic chemical stench that I remember from it.

Message to S C Johnson: I like the "odourless" quality. Well done there. But I'm not so keen on the "non-toxic" aspect.


Nodressrehearsal said...

Surely you're forgetting the nodressrehersal method of dealing with fruitflies:

Xigent said...

You may have got your hands on one of those new Raid cans for which Auckland is a test market. Was it marked "NEW! IMPROVED! Killer Homeopathic Formula!"?

I've heard it works on flies and roaches, as long as they know nothing about homeopathic theory.

vet said...

Ah, NDR, that is an admirable tactic and I look forward to trying it out. I do have misgivings, however: it looks like it fails to meet one of my standing goals in life, which is laziness. Basically, I'd see it as a way of making cleaning fun.

Xigent, the can is unmarked. Maybe it's a double-blind trial. Currently I'm thinking of using it to stun them, à la NDR's tactic linked above.

Ruby Apolline said...

Fun, well-written piece (natch).

Once there was a yellowjacket in my apartment. I believe you are aware of my tendencies with regard to flying and stinging insects, but I am proud to report that I held it together long enough to douse the thing with some organic household cleaner, at which point it got so heavy with goop it fell into the toilet.

We used this stuff called FlyNap in college to knock out Drosophila while conducting our evil experiments. I could try to obtain the recipe, for a small fee. I still know people.