Thursday, April 12, 2012

Lord and lady of the flies

We've had a fly problem. Tens, dozens of flies, crawling on the windows, hopping around in the kitchen, gathering in my seedlings. "They're coming in from outside," Eric said, having read up on fly life cycles, and suggested we clean out under the back steps. But while this is undoubtedly a good idea, I thought that was unlikely to be the problem. And if it was, weatherstripping and a sweep made more sense. No, I was certain that something had died, probably in the basement, and we would have to find it and get rid of it. And before my mother comes for Maia's birthday in two weeks.

So tonight I said, "I want to figure out where the flies are coming from." In reality it could have been just me who did it...but I didn't want to find a flyblown corpse in my dark basement alone. 

So Eric got his shoes and accompanied me. More flies, dead ones this time, littered one of the back rooms in the basement. (The stairs go down to the laundry room, then curve back to this room, then to the one containing the furnace and the crawl space access.) "Okay," Eric conceded. "The source must be inside if there are this many dead."

We poked through storage boxes, the shrouded baby carrier, the defunct tool bench. "This is a fly graveyard," Eric said, looking at the tiny corpses. "But what killed them all?"

"I would think they starved," I offered. "Only no, wherever they're spawning should be able to feed them."

"Maybe not for long," he said darkly, and tried in vain to turn on a light over the tool bench. (Hey! I've never committed a true unintentional Tom Swifty before.) "Should I get a new bulb?" I offered.

"Yeah," he said, and proceeded to the rearmost back room while I tripped up the stairs to get a bulb. 

I heard a whunk and an "Oh!" and shouted from the top stairs, "What is it?" Then, noticing how loud I was, said, "I'll be down in a minute."

"Okay," he called, as ChloĆ« called for me from her bed. 

"Who is here?" Chloƫ asked when I poked my head in.

"Nobody. We're moving things in the basement to find where the flies are coming from. So we can clean it out. Nothing to worry about." I removed myself and went back downstairs.

"What is it?" I called when I was back down in the basement and braced to hear "a squirrel must have gotten in..." or something similar.

"The crawl space door was wide open!" 

We'd been in the crawl space earlier in the year to fix the front porch, and evidently never closed it. Now that I think about it, I feel like I remember wondering if we'd closed the door, but never going to look before I forgot. Evidently the flies bred outside in a sheltered place, as flies do, and found the wide-open crawl space door...

"They'd fly through here," Eric said, gesturing at the now hammered-closed door. "They found themselves in darkness. They went toward what light they could find, which was that," gesturing toward a cutout in the wall that led toward the laundry room, "and the ones that were smart..."

"You realize you're talking about flies."

"...The lucky ones made it upstairs."

I looked around as we circled back to the stairs. "So what we should do is wait a couple of weeks and then come down here and clean up all the dead bodies."

"Yep," he said, and we mounted the stairs to get back to the light, and leave the fly graveyard.

No comments: