The battle is coming…
I stand and wait for the enemy.
They attack every year, and every year I lose.
But this time, I’m going to WIN.
Who is my terrible antagonist? Fruit flies.
Sorry, couldn’t resist. I mean this little monster, Drosophila Melanogaster, the fruit fly:
Every summer my kitchen becomes a battlefield. The flies send a scouting party. This grows to a company… then a battalion, a division, and finally the whole army descends.
These flying brown dots establish a forward operating base in the garbage can. And who can blame them? That thing smells amazing. They spread through the kitchen, conquering territory while dive-bombing my face.
And laughing at me. How I hate them.
They stay all summer no matter what I do. It drives me mad.
This spring I sought counsel from the three-eyed Seer by the river. He told me I should give up this war. That it is unwinnable. He said this battle results from “a corruption of my soul, not of nature.”
But I can’t give it up.
I must fight.
And what does that guy know, anyway? He doesn’t even have a tv.
My past efforts haven’t exactly worked wonders. I attack; the flies sacrifice some of their numbers, breed, and come back stronger.
I don’t like to lose. So this year I’ve decided to do some out-of-the-box thinking. Let’s red team-blue team this!
Red Team (the fruit flies)
Strategy: Eat, make babies, buzz around the large mammal, drive insane. Repeat.
Ok, not a lot of insight there, but it’s good to know my enemy.
Blue Team: That’s me!
Let’s assess my failed tactics from past years:
Maintain general cleanliness: I do this no matter what. Maybe it helps a little, who can say. But it doesn’t stop the war.
Swatting: Kills some flies, not many. But it is satisfying AND it hones the reflexes, so I will continue.
Flypaper: Kills quite a few, but again, doesn’t stop them. It also resulted in a brilliant plan to hang flypaper from the light fixture in the center of the kitchen.
My sister-in-law: You’re going to walk into that. With you face.
Me: No I won’t. I have ninja-like spatial awareness.
20 minutes pass… *picks flypaper off face*
The paper funnel and apple cider vinegar trap: This is a popular solution online. It never worked for me. One or two flies dove to their deaths, but it mostly serves as a conversation piece.
Guest: What is that?
Me: War machine.
None of these tactics has been effective. This shouldn’t surprise me. What’s that old chestnut we all learn in kindergarten? When faced with asymmetrical warfare, attrition is the only strategy that guarantees failure.
So… enough games. It’s time to get brilliant.
New Strategies for Kitchen War 2016: (AKA go evil genius on these bastards!)
1. Match the enemy’s offspring with my own offspring. Let’s game this out. I’m gonna assume the most optimal circumstances to give this strategy a fair shake.
If I met a soulmate-level woman today, we could marry in three months. I estimate another three months to conception of a child, and nine more until birth. That’s a year and three months to my first offspring.
Let’s presume that I father a physically-gifted child. We add another four years until she has the dexterity to swing a fly swatter with accuracy.
By this time, I will have taught her to hate the fly. She will take the same oath Carthaginian General Hamilcar asked of his son Hannibal.
Replace “Rome” with “the fruit fly.”
I might also have her attack actual Rome. Why not?
I’m going to add one more year for kung-fu training. I need her to be a deadly weapon (to flies).
That’s a total of six years and three months until I have offspring that can contribute to my cause.
In that time, a single mating pair of fruit flies (and progeny) with a stable food source can produce roughly 2,900,000,000 offspring.
I’m not saying there aren’t kinks. Putting this in the “maybe” column.
2. Stop eating food at home. Effective, but it also eliminates 99% of my home life activity. Not acceptable.
3. Reverse-exorcism. Summon demons to help kill the flies. Worry about how to get rid of demons after the fruit fly is extinct. I don’t know how to summon a demon, but Hollywood teaches us that the Necronomicon Ex Mortus will do the trick.
4. Marry an entomologist. I like this. Find love AND get expert help in the war? Big yes. I don’t know how many single women with entomology degrees live in my area, but it’s worth checking out.
Would that make a strange dating profile? What I’m Looking For: Graduate degree in entomology. Prefer field research in genus Drosophila, particularly Drosophila melanogaster and Drosophila suzukii.
5. Offer a bounty for every fruit fly killed. I like the idea of outsourcing the labor, but if mercs battle through my kitchen at all hours, it will kill my sleep.
6. Become like them. Not Jeff Goldblum-style, but in psychology and habit. Learn to be disgusting. Live in the forest, forage for food.
Pro: I don’t think I would notice them anymore. Con: Leave civilized human society forever.
Another for the “maybe” column.
7. Fire. Burn it all. Kills the enemy, no obvious downsides. Definite keeper.
Done. Good brainstorming session.
I’m pretty happy with these, but something still doesn’t feel right. It all seems like a lot of work, both physically and mentally. Maybe I should read The Forever War again to get some perspective?
I wonder if the Seer was right.
Brown dots with wings shouldn’t bother me. They don’t bite, they don’t spread disease. I should accept them as inevitable, a by-product of the Atlanta summer and my need to eat.
Should I just relax? Cohabitate with the dots?
Maybe. But this obsession suits me. What would I do in peacetime? Who would I be without my enemy? To what new battle would I pledge myself?
I may have an answer. Two days ago I saw my first house centipede of the year. In case you don’t know what that is, it’s this horrifying creature:
What is your obsession? Do you have a metaphorical or literal fruit fly? What have you sworn a blood oath to destroy? Or have you learned not to make war with nature?