Gnats In My Belfry

“I like to keep mine razor sharp. Sharp enough you can shave with it. Why I’ve been known to circumcise a gnat. You’re not a gnat are you, Bug? Wait a minute: bug, gnat. Is there a little similarity? Whoa, I think there is!”

Uncle Buck, remarking to his niece’s unwelcome
suitor, Bug, about the hatchet in his trunk

I have a little problem, and I’d welcome your advice. See, I have a beautiful office, with high windows that get good sunlight. All of our house plants have moved, one by one, two by two, to the office as a result — and they are thriving.

Unfortunately, so are the gnats. Fruit flies is what most folks call ’em, but I’m told they’re fungus gnats, and they live in the moist top layer of soil.

I’ve tried to get rid of them. I swat ’em. Snatch ’em. Smack ’em. Inhale ’em. People pass my door, see my eyes darting, hands flitting wildly about about by face — they shake their heads and walk on.

I was told that if you blow a fan across the tops of the pots, you’ll dry the soil and kill them. Didn’t work. I heard that if you put a layer of aquarium gravel on top of the soil, the gnats can’t lay their eggs in the dirt and will die off. Not so much.

So now I’ve got to re-pot them, I guess, unless you have a better idea. I’m bringing them back home, one by one, two by two — and of course, I can’t bring a couple home and take them back the next day, because I’ll re-infest them from the still-infested pots.

The final straw was a visit to my office by an associate vice president. As she spoke to me she seemed not to notice the winged black speck circling her head. I, of course, did notice. I have no idea what she said to me …

So Friday evening I grabbed a box from the recycling pile and put two plants in it. It’s about a three-block walk to the parking ramp, and I was carrying my computer and lunch bag, too, so it wasn’t a huge surprise when the tall plant in the skinny plant tipped and spilled aquarium gravel across the bottom of the box. No worries; the other plant is sprawling, green and ropey thing in a pot half again wider than it is tall. It won’t tip …

It did, and I nearly lost the whole load.

I put the plants in the back of the Golf, and haven’t seen the gnats since. But now and again, I feel like I’m being watched from the back seat. I’ll check my blind-spot and something will catch my eye near the back window. I’ll do a double-take and run off the road. Invariably, there’s nothing there.

No number of gnats could’ve tipped that pot, that box and me, could they? I’m just being paranoid … right?

As I write this I’m comfortably in the house. The plants are in the garage. And — just now — a gnat crawled across my computer screen.

Where is that hatchet, anyway?

6 thoughts on “Gnats In My Belfry

  1. I've heard hanging Rue will get rid of fruit flies- maybe it would work for gnats? Or you could try looking up a recipe for one of those organic pesticides that calls for cayenne and tobacco…


  2. Oh, ephelba, if my grandma were still alive she'd have that recipe for sure. In college, I complained about roaches and she sent me a baggie of cocoa-flavored Borax to sprinkle in the doorways.

    Thorp, if you hadn't somehow given my your man-cold through cyberspace, I would make any number of brilliant gnat puns here.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s