I was washing dishes, solving work, parenting, and other issues in my mind when my son told me he saw two flies zipping around our apartment. No room in my brain to tackle another problem. So, I went with my instinct.
“Flies live for 24 hours, they will be dead by this time tomorrow.” I said with authority when I had none.
Turns out, had I done my research, I would have found out that flies live for 28 days. Google notes that the average person thinks a fly lives for only about 24 hours. Must be yet another flaw in the education system.
Thinking these two flies were living their last minutes, I believed I would find their carcasses somewhere in the apartment. Instead, in the next few days, the number of flies tripled; the sextuplet zoomed around my place as if they paid the mortgage. Pest Control, we have a problem.
I like to see myself as a progressive citizen and mom. So, I wanted to get rid of this problem on my own — without fly paper which is inhumane, gross, and not PETA approved. First stop: indoor plug in zapper — this is how it works: flies are attracted to the light, and, instead of going to a disco or some kind of party, they are greeted with a fatal buzz of a lifetime. Safe for the environment and kills flies instantly. A quick death. Sounded easy, and I believed the product’s marketing that this will get rid of all my flies. We plugged in 2 zappers, one in the kitchen, one in the bathroom, and caught only a few critters.
Flies: 1; Me: 0.
Our next purchase was a fly trap, a plastic looking apple with holes on top filled with apple cider vinegar. Flies, attracted to the scent, dive to their death. One took a fatal swim.
What was worse, I knew what the flies were living on: my apartment — licking the empty red wine bottle in the recycling bin, eating the crumbs near the toaster that I can never fully clean, and pooping on my walls. I was embarrassed to be me and went straight to my unhappy place: fly-infested home means I am a terrible mother and homemaker.
And, now with Covid, my world could see my place and judge. My husband, son and I were all working and learning (a loose term) remotely. Colleagues, classmates, and teachers could see pests flying in the background. And, a virtual background could not hide my shooing away flies. How many times could I say I have a smudge on my computer screen?
I had one more option: a lot of construction was going on in our building. Maybe that was the cause of the fly infestation or something was attracting flies, like a dead animal or uncovered garbage. This meant I had to go to my super and confess my fly problem. I felt like I was seeing my doctor for something really embarrassing, like the time when I was young and stuck a locket up my nose and had to answer the question, what happened? I found out that I was the only one who reported a fly invasion. After a thorough search, nothing was causing the flies to come in. So, it’s me.
I could not sleep. I could not concentrate. They kept multiplying. Besides treating my kitchen like The Fly Restaurant, pretty sure the flies were getting it on at my place, aka The Fly Motel. I was unwittingly hosting an all-service fly world. When I saw about ten on the ceiling looking like raisins on a whiteboard, I felt they were mocking me. Enough. PETA, go ahead, put me on a most wanted list. I did not care what it took — I was getting rid of these invaders. Besides, if I am true to myself, I am not that enlightened. Sometimes, I don’t recycle.
The next day I sent my husband to the hardware store to get “ a lot” of fly paper and called an exterminator. My husband came back with the store’s last four rolls. So, I wasn’t the only person in my progressive neighborhood who used cruel and unusual punishment. I felt like I had a license to kill with any method. We hung up the rolls in my less than 900 square foot apartment: entryway, kitchen, bathroom, and living room. Flies filled up the death streamers. Ha Ha.
The exterminator sprayed the windows and cabinets with fly poison. The spray made the flies so woozy that I could smash them with a dish towel. I was a fly killing machine. Sweet revenge.
And, yet, some flies escaped the zapper, fly paper, and poison. That is when I discovered the large electric bug zapper, a battery operated mini-tennis racquet with electrified metal strings. I was made for this weapon. As soon as I held the zapper, my instinct kicked in. I know what Thor feels like.
I am not that good in tennis, but with the zapper, I developed a forehand that would scare Serena Williams. No fly could get away from me — swoosh, and I zapped it to its death. Fifteen to love. Or, when the fly was on the cabinet, I could place the zapper over the fly, trap it, and electrocute it to its death. Often, I pressed the button that electrified the fly long after the fly was no more. Zzzzzzzzzzzz. Could the zapper be a gateway to homicide? I was getting there.
I was always carrying my zapper or had it nearby. Serving dinner with one hand on the plate — the other on my bug killing racquet. My husband and kid knew to call me when they saw a fly. It was my job.
One fly hung on the top of the fly trap. I had my racquet in my hand. Do I let the fly swim to its death or zap it? Buzz. No more fly.
And, then there were none. I won.
I took down the fly paper and stowed the zapping tennis racquet in an easy-to-get-to cabinet. I made sure that I did not have to dig for the racquet should the flies come back.
To confirm that I am not the only one in the neighborhood that uses fly paper, I went to the hardware store to see if they were still sold out. They were not, fully stocked. Turns out, they were out of fly paper in the summer because of supply chain problems due to COVID. I bought a few more rolls. I am ready for the next infestation, and I will not hesitate next time. Lesson learned.
I feel fine. And, when this pandemic is over, I might take up tennis.