Dear gardener: I hope you can give me some direction even if my problem is not in the yard.
In the past few weeks we have been attacked by tiny tiny flies. They’re the heaviest in the kitchen but seem to follow us into the dining area as we eat. They are not normal flies. Tiny! I’ve cleaned my kitchen and dining area thoroughly and it doesn’t seem to matter. In fact, we’re getting more and more of it. They don’t bite or even make a sound, but it’s gross to have them in those areas with food.
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Sorry if that’s a strange question, and I swear we’re not dirty people.
Any help would be appreciated. – Anonymous
Dear anonymous: I say this lightly the whole time, but “Welcome to Florida!”
Just when you think you have cockroaches in the house and huge grasshoppers in the garden under control, a new bug emerges.
It sounds like you have drain flies. I’m not giving a scientific name because I don’t know exactly what little fly you have. It does not matter.
If I’m correct the steps to get rid of them are the same.
First of all, I believe you when you say you have a clean home. It doesn’t take much to attract these guys and keep them happy. I’ve had it. I have a million dollar friend at home who had it, so no judgment. Drainage flies are attracted to fruits, vegetables, and even the smallest amounts of drainage debris. The drains with disposal are the favorites. So many little corners and edges.
The first step, if you have one on hand, is to grab a flashlight, pull the rubber flaps aside, and really look around down there. Warning: it could be gross. It’s terrifying how much disposal doesn’t go down the drain. Take a long-handled bottle brush and scrub the blade area and up under the flaps. Keep checking how you are with the flashlight. You can pour boiling water first to soften things up if it’s really bad.
Some people read this and shake their heads and say, “Why don’t you just pour bleach down the drain?” Well, if you don’t have disposal and you don’t have a septic tank either, that might be fine. I assume Anonymous has both.
The next step works either way, and it’s silly simple: keep your drains plugged unless you’re using them. I would even make sure there was a little water in the sink to make sure it was really, really clogged. The drain is where these little idiots lay their eggs and where the larvae live. You break the life cycle by blocking them. Two weeks should do it.
In the meantime, keep the fruit in the refrigerator and if you compost it will need to keep the leftovers in an airtight container until you transfer them to your compost heap.
They are attracted to these objects and can penetrate through sieves or tiny holes. Much luck.
Dear readers: This time the “Favorite Garden Spot” offers a collection of birdhouses. Who doesn’t love birdhouses?
Dear gardener: The story behind this favorite place in our garden is simple. It all started when my wife Margaret fell in love with a fancy bird feeder at the flea market. It has a real stone fireplace and a small porch. We paid way too much for it. When we got home I pinned it to a dead tree in the front yard and that was it – we started collecting. Now we have so many!
If a house rots and collapses, I just leave the back on or put up another bird house. This tree makes us happy every day and it all started with the overpriced one which is still in good shape!
“Gardener Gal” Leslie Derrenbacker is a master gardener and was born in Florida. Send your questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.