Now that the long days of summer are here, we can all look forward to extra daylight and evenings warm enough to stay outside in t-shirts and shorts until dark. Barbeques are uncovered and dishes for potlucks are prepared as we eagerly share with our friends and families the beautiful and colorful food that comes with this season. Unfortunately, we also have to deal with uninvited party guests who persistently try to eat what wasn’t offered to them.
I’m talking about fruit flies in our kitchens and slugs in our gardens. For being icky critters, they sure do have evolved palates and lots of friends. My slugs are fanatical about the dinosaur kale in the garden and my flies never miss an opportunity to snack on the apple bananas that have separated from the stems and chico fruit that has been punctured. I think they might be hooked into some kind of social network as well, because it seems they are able to get the word out fast when there is food to be eaten.
Well, for guests like these, I would highly recommend serving them beverages they cannot refuse. Flies love the smell of vinegar and slugs cannot turn down fresh beer, so make sure you always have some on hand to offer these party crashers.
For the flies, take a small cup and fill it half way with apple cider or white vinegar. Then add a couple drops of your dish soap and put the cup under a running faucet to create a surface of slippery bubbles. Place this cup next to your fruit bowl or wherever you are seeing fruit flies. The flies will be attracted to the cup by the smell of vinegar, but will get caught in the bubbles. Within 12 hours or so, you should see all the flies at the bottom of the cup for their after-party.
For garden slugs, put a cup or saucer full of fresh beer near where you are seeing holes in your plants or slime on leaves. Try to place the container in a way that is easy for the slugs to get into—maybe digging a hole in the ground or nestling it in the grass. Do this around dusk, and then check your trap in the morning. I have experimented with both fresh and stale beer and can tell you that only fresh beer has worked for me. I’ve even watched slugs crawl into the saucer with stale beer, then turn around to leave. I’m telling you… they have evolved palates.
Since I’ve been doing this, there is a noticeable difference in the number of slugs crawling about in the mornings after a good rain. I have also started to spread egg shells and coffee ground around the plants with soft leaves that they like to munch on, and have shaken the salt container around the outside of the raised bed (don’t put salt in the area you want things to grow). I know there are products you can buy to deter pests like these, but frankly, I would like to avoid spending money on such a cause if there are things in my kitchen which can do the job just as well.
So remember to keep vinegar and beer on hand for the critters that show up uninvited and help themselves to your tasty food. For any human crashers, you might want to put the beer away, pull up the Amy Grant station on Pandora, and tell them they’re just in time for karaoke. “Baby, baby… the stars are shining for you.” I would run from that house. Cheers to all my invited and uninvited party guests!
***Update: 7 slugs came to last night’s party! Apparently, they love Maui Brewing’s Big Swell IPA.