By: Staff Reports | Gwinnett Citizen
Carole Townsend

It's a jungle in here
By Carole Townsend

This is not an easy thing to admit, but I have a confession to make. I have been outwitted by a rogue band of fruit flies. They have taken up residence in my kitchen (my countertops have been sans fruit for nearly a week now), and they refuse to leave.

I have scoured my countertops with bleach, poured bleach down the sinks, and even resorted to setting all kinds of elaborate traps to lure them in and drown them. The traps should have worked; I found out how to make them on the Internet. If it’s on the Internet, it has to be true, right?

My husband tells me that I am becoming obsessed with the little buggers. He came home from work earlier this week to find me hiding behind the pantry door and squirting Windex on the pesky little creatures as they happened to fly into range. I don’t know how long I had been doing that when he found me; it could have been hours. I lost track of time.

Sometimes, I have to remind myself that we live in a suburban area. For goodness’ sake, we live in an urban area compared to most of the world, don’t we? We have lived in our house for about 16 years, and in that time, we have encountered more wildlife than we normally see at the Atlanta Zoo.

We keep our dogs’ food in a large aluminum storage can in the garage, because mice chewed up the large plastic container we used to use. If I have an extra 50-lb. bag, I throw it in the freezer, on top of bags of frozen squash, boxes of lasagna and ice cream. The kids have never even asked my why there’s dog food in the freezer; they are used to seeing such things by now.

Several years ago, a mouse got into the house and took up residence in the pantry. He treated himself to rice, flour, pasta, several kinds of soup and even coffee. I never did get a full-on look at him; rather, he would scurry around the corner or shimmy under a door, giving me just enough of a glimpse of something to wonder if I might be going crazy.

Once, I went to pick up a thick string off the kitchen floor, and it turned out to be the tail of a lizard. It was attached to the rest of the lizard, which was hiding under the stove. It took hours for my heart rate to return to normal.

Chipmunks winter in the garage, and snakes swim in our pool more often than we do. One January, we found a squirrel frozen mid-step in the shallow end of the pool. He looked as if he was running a 5K. Birds fly in and out of the doors at will. Once, a bird flew in and taunted us from the top of a very tall ficus tree in the foyer. We finally trapped him between two tennis rackets in my son’s room and returned him safely to the great outdoors. He beat us back inside the house, and it was days before we caught him again. Without going into too much detail, I did a lot of mopping that week.

I am at my wits’ end with these fruit flies. I searched the Internet for clever ways to trap them and drown them; the most elaborate involved more than $10 worth of fruit and most of a bottle of wine. Believe it or not, that concoction didn’t catch a single fruit fly, but by the time the evening was over, I didn’t really care.

Right now, I have several glasses of apple cider vinegar placed strategically throughout the kitchen. There is plastic wrap stretched tightly over each glass, and there are tiny holes poked in the plastic wrap. The logic behind these traps is that the fruit flies are drawn to the smell of the vinegar, then they crawl into one of the holes in the wrap, dive into the vinegar and drown. It works, because I have sat and watched them commit hara-kari for some time now. Every time one of the little guys creeps into a hole and takes the plunge, I utter a war cry of victory.

Our dogs have watched this process for several days now, and I can’t help wondering what they’re thinking as I strategize, retreat, regroup and launch another attack. I do know one thing: not one of them has ever alerted us to any wild creatures being in the house – not mice, lizards or even birds.. And two of them are bird dogs.

Carole Townsend is a Gwinnett author and freelance writer. She writes about family, from both a humorous and poignant perspective. Her newest book, MAGNOLIAS, SWEET TEA AND EXHAUST (July 2014, Skyhorse Publishing) takes a look at NASCAR from a Southern suburban mom’s perspective. She is currently writing her fourth book. Carole has appeared on local and national news and talk shows, including CNN, ABC, CBS and NBC affiliates. When not writing, she travels throughout the region, speaking to various civic and literary groups, and advocating for the health and well-being of the family, particularly women and children. For more information, visit www.caroletownsend.com.