Monday, October 21, 2013

My ongoing and highly personal battle with drain flies

At first, I didn’t even know what they were.

But I looked it up, and found that they were drain flies.

At first, they weren’t in our unit.

But they were in the common area – laundry room and beyond.

Not that we ignored them when they were there. You know what happens when you ignore barbarians at the gate – they just keep knock, knock, knocking on heaven’s door.

We – on our very own dime - got some sort of lantern-like bug zapper and ran it morning, noon and night.

We got the condo association to bring in an exterminator.

We got a fly swatter and swatter a lot of them. Sometimes we even used our bare naked hands.

We got the condo association to bring in another exterminator.

Who took care of the problem in the common area.

But those drain flies are survivalists of the first order, and they had to flee someplace. And that someplace was our bathtub drain.

I poured bleach drown the drain. Gallons of it.

I sprayed Raid for Flying Insects, from Johnson, A Family Company.

Which killed plenty of them.

Just before we left for a few days in NYC in July, I sprayed copious amounts of Raid in and around the tub.

I came back to a killing field.

How often do you have to use a broom to sweep fly carcasses up?

I then found a do-it-yourself-extermination supply company on line.

I ordered some green bio-gel that was supposed to rid the drain of the sludge that drain flies thrive in.

It sort of did the trick, and they were mostly gone.

We went from swatting a couple of dozen a day – because nobody wants to keep breathing in Raid for Flying Insects from Johnson, A Family Company, on a regular basis, even though they’ve gussied up the smell and it no longer gives you the impression that you’ll suffer from death at first breath. Thanks to Johnson, A Family Company, the noxious odor is more “pleasant”, and gives the impression that you’ll die of lung cancer, but it will take a decade or so.

Alone, and occasionally in twos or threes, the drain flies came back.

The green bio-gel was no longer available, so I ordered a gallon of the alternative sludge killer, which smells and looks like orange Zarex syrup.

When used in conjunction with a foam spray that smells moderately lethal, they keep the drain flies mostly at bay.

Meanwhile, the condo exterminator made a guest appearance and I dragooned him into taking a look at our tub drain from hell. He told me there was probably a crack in the pipe connecting our building to the City of Boston pipery.

Plumbers inspecting the condo drains with a CCD camera confirmed the cracked pipe theory. Visions of our floor – part of our unit is in the basement level of the building, and some of the common pipe runs under our unit – being torn up while new pipe is set come horroring into my mind. To say that this would be a very, very, very bad time to worry about the floor being torn up is to understate the case.

And speaking of common pipes, did I mention that a few weeks ago, sewage starting backing up into our downstairs toilet and drain. Which was caused by some nitwit in the building flushing down Swifter mitts, paper towels, and those new-fangled, completely unnecessary toilet wipes. Our very own fatberg! Good thing I keep gallon jugs of bleach on hand.

Did I mention that this would be a very, very, very bad time to worry about sewage backing up into our toilet and bathtub. Not that there’s ever a good time for this to happen, but some times are just out and out very, very, very, very bad.

And, frankly, we’ve got more important things to worry about than getting an exterminator in to take care of a problem that probably can’t be taken care of without replacing all the connector pipes in the building.

Meanwhile, I’m quite sure that having sewage roiling around the drains hasn’t helped with the drain fly problem any.

In any case, while we are now plagued by fewer drain flies, the ones we are plagued by are, more or less, the elite: the few, the proud, the survivors.

If there’s anyone out there who doubts the theory of evolution and survival of the fittest, let them come to my house.

The current swarm are a bit wilier, a bit larger.

Sometimes they elude me on first swat.

They flit to the ceiling, where I have to bring out my WMD – Raid for Flying Insects, from Johnson, A Family Company – or whack at them with a drain brush or hurl a bunched up, dampened wash cloth at them. (Don’t worry, I have a special-purpose wash cloth reserved for this task.)

Mostly I win.

They are, after all, drain flies.

And evolution cuts both ways.

But, as I mentioned, they are getting a bit wilier.

Any day now, I expect to open the downstairs bathroom door – kept hermetically sealed at all times – and find Jeff Goldblum sitting on my toilet.

As should all things fly, he should consider me armed and dangerous.

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