Monday, April 5, 2010

Choose Your Weapon Carefully!

The fruit trees are in bloom! First come the plums; then the peaches; then the apples. The trees remind me of frothy wedding gowns and indeed, they are like new brides with all their finery! To stand underneath an apple tree in full bloom is indescribable! And the buzzing! Insects have made the tree a second home for the moment

The buzzings are not all “honey bees.” Flying insects come in all shapes and sizes, and in hopping from one flower to another, do the significant work of pollination. Without them there would be no fruit.   Sadly there are fewer and fewer honey bees to do that significant work. When the snowdrops were out earlier this spring, I was elated to witness several "real" bees “busily” moving from flower to flower. But the fact that I could count them, only increases my alarm at the declining numbers.

Out here on the farm, JOTOLR,  flies are an inevitable, unpleasant, but integral part of living. They come in all sizes, too, from the dratted little fruit flies that even go so far as to sail into our mouth as we’re about to enjoy a fully ripened strawberry or a dab of cider vinegar; to the blue bottles that re-cycle old carcasses; to the house flies and attic flies that wait till evening to zoom through the house and try to commit hari kari in the lightbulbs and against our TV screens; to the little noisy mosquitoes and gnats that buzz—yes—in our ear and send the fears shivering up our spines thinking of all the ugly diseases one bite from them could cause.

So, what’s the first thing YOU reach for at the aggravating buzz of a “bug?” Spray? Swatter?

I am not a broadcast sprayer. Yes, I have all these fly potions you see in the photo…but 99% of the time I use only three: the swatter, the fly paper, and the other “type” of fly paper. This last –the “new” type of flypaper, was a revelation for me. My friend Debbi had seen it at the Amish store. The lady there said she’d bought it at Walmart. Sure enough, next time I went to Walmart, there is was! So, I bought a pack and used three of the four toward the end of last summer. They are unobtrusive and –more important—their environmental “footprint” is relatively small compared to, say, a spray can of Hot Shot. Consider the manufacturing process of both spray and can; then consider the effects on pollinators with broadcast spraying. Yes, there is a bit of plastic in the manufacturing process of the “new” flypaper; but overall, it’s considerably less than the spray. It’s a good thing. It sticks to the window on two narrow strips of adhesive, in a corner where it's almost invisible.  And, it works. 

Have you ever thought about what insect spray is doing to YOU? (At least hold your breath and leave the room if you believe you have to spray!) So, most often, on TV commercials, people are shown waving cans of spray in a room, with the button depressed, and you might just as well have invited a bi-plane into your living room to zoom-broadcast the poison.

So, let’s talk about that “ugly, old, disgusting, nasty” traditional fly paper. Over time, the manufacturers of sprays have managed to convince Ms. American Homemaker that this type of flypaper is odious, unsanitary, unsightly, and not to even think about using it. Eeeewwww~!

And yes. I use flypaper.

Of course, I don’t let it hang there covered in fly bodies for months at a time. I replace the ribbons regularly. The best thing is that environmentally, flypaper—or fly “ribbons” as they are now called (it’s all in the language, isn’t it!), not only work, but they’re selective. Of course you’re going to kill a few pollinators no matter which method you choose. But, using flypaper instead of spray allows you to be somewhat discriminating (inside is off limits to flies regardless of the type!) and I’ve found that flypaper is the best thing in the world for those hard-to-lose fruit flies.

Choosing your “weapon” carefully, means respecting the biological processes of the earth, thinking about them as you go about trying to maintain your comfort in the face of summertime pests. The decline of pollinators may not be completely the result of humans’ war with bugs, (the jury is still out on what has caused the decline in honeybees' numbers), but we need to consider carefully what we are doing. Taking the least “chemical” pathway might be a good place to start. Begin with a swatter and some effort; use flypapers rather than spray.  Allow nature to do its intended work.

So, how do you “work with” bugs?

1 comment:

  1. I guess the up side of having cold damp summers is that we don't have a fly problem. The occasional fly buzzing in the kitchen driving me mad until I can chase it out of the door is about all. Some midges in the garden and I am one of those unfortunate people that does get bitten by mosquitos so it's good we don't have them. We do have the ultimate in 'green' fly killer. Lots of house spiders. I only clear the webs when arachnophobic friends are coming to stay. I even had one that lived in my Landrover and would sit in the top corner of the windscreen.So no chemicals needed at all.