Kristian Bland Thursday, December 10, 2020 Comments Off on Gnats

By Kristian Bland

On the big list of use-less creatures Noah could’ve left off the ark and no one would have even cared, gnats and mosquitoes are right.

up at the top. And after this year’s hur-ricane season, we’ve had more than our fair share of both. All the standing water left after a storm breeds the bloodsuckers. But what really brings out the gnats and fruit flies and drain flies and every other type of annoying flying thing is losing electricity.

From the food that went bad in our refrigerators to what we left out by the trash and every paralyzed septic system in between, south Louisiana has become the number one tourist destination for un-wanted insects. The mosquito problem is finally getting under control thanks to the cooler weather and military intervention in the form of Air Force C-130s carpet-bombing the area with insecticide. But the gnats are more resilient than their vam-piric brethren.

People have tried everything, from expensive treatment solutions to the old standby of using apple cider vinegar and every grandma’s favorite cure-all, blue Dawn dish soap. Seriously, if home rem-edies are to be believed, blue Dawn can fix everything from a clogged toilet to the pimple that showed up on your nose on picture day in the 10th grade. It’s basical-ly the cure to all life’s problems unless, of course, those problems happen to involve hurricane gnats. They’re on a whole dif-ferent level. 

The “super effective” little apple-looking trap things work a little better than the dish soap fix. But I personally watched one of the wretched creatures fly around one, then land on it and go inside to have a look around before crawling right back out again so it could resume its regularly scheduled dive-bombing of my face. While we have managed to catch a few, the battle is ongoing.

They are becoming less of an issue as time goes on and the weather cools down. But if you have neighbors who don’t mow their lawns regularly or if you live next to an unoccupied home no one seems to be taking care of, you’re probably in for a longer campaign against the flying horde. Good luck!

Years ago, after Hurricane Ike, my home was swarmed with what I called gnats but were actually drain flies. They behave pretty much like gnats and they’re tiny and annoying and too fast to swat, so they’re basically gnats. Everything is gnats. Their scientific name is clogmia al-bipunctata, but gnat is easier to spell, so I’m sticking with it. 

Turns out, drain flies have some kind of mutant healing factor to rival the best of the X-Men and can withstand almost any-thing you try to throw at them. They like to camp out in the drains of your home, hence their name. But they don’t take invitations to leave very seriously. Pour boiling water down the drain, and they’ll just enjoy a nice sauna. Liquid plumber? Clears up their sinuses. Foaming drain cleaner? It’s basically shampoo for them.

I tried everything to get rid of them before resorting to the nuclear option of ripping out the pipes under my kitchen sink along with the drain baskets them-selves, which might sound like overkill, but trust me, it was exactly the right amount of kill. The pipe replacement was easy enough, but the drain baskets proved much more challenging and had me shouting words under my kitchen cabinet that would make a sailor blush.

The problem was I lived in an old house with fixtures that were probably around when Grover Cleveland was president, and the stupid things just did not want to be removed. The locknuts had become fused with the rubber gas-kets and plumber’s putty in some kind of unbreakable bond that was able to resist every attempt I made to loosen them. I bought a special tool from the hardware store, but it was no match. I summoned every bit of leftover physics knowledge I had from high school to apply the maxi-mum amount of leverage possible, but the locknuts held firm. I brought out a large hammer and waved it menacingly in front of the drain basket assemblies. They were unimpressed.

Finally — and this is not an exag-geration — I killed it with fire. I lined the bottom of my kitchen cabinet with damp towels (safety first!) then brought an acet-ylene torch out to play. A concentrated, ex-tended blast from the torch slowly began to melt whatever metal locknuts are made of. After a bit of it had dripped onto the towels, I wedged a flathead screwdriver into the melting section, took the hammer I’d threatened to use earlier and started smacking the other end of the screwdriver until each locknut finally surrendered and broke free. I’m not sure what amount of toxic fumes I inhaled during the process of liquifying antediluvian sink metal, but it was worth it.

After I installed new drain baskets and put new PVC pipe under the sink, the drain flies were gone for good. I finally emerged victorious, and balance had been restored to the universe. 

Now, I’m not saying you’ll have to go to similar extremes or anything. But if you ever need someone to help you wage a violent campaign of fire and destruction against your gnat problem, give me a call.

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