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.