DEAR SUN SPOTS: I want to let you know I have gotten so much great information from your column. I hope you never stop running it.
I have a problem with fruit flies and have tried everything like vinegar, bay leaf, etc. Nothing seems to help. I keep my garbage disposal very clean and all my drains plugged and still have fruit flies in my kitchen near the sink. I don’t keep any fruits or veggies on the cupboards.
I need help. They are driving me crazy! Do you have any suggestions? Thanks. — Shirley Heald, firstname.lastname@example.org
ANSWER: Sun Spots has covered this topic before, and readers have offered their suggestions as well.
When using the vinegar treatment, it is essential to trap the flies. If you don’t trap them, you are just feeding them rather than getting rid of them.
Techniques include using a bottle with a narrow opening, putting cheesecloth or other netting over top or adding a drop or two of dishwashing detergent to the vinegar. The soap is a surfactant, which means it breaks the surface tension of the water so the flies drown instead of skimming across the top.
Readers also suggested using a covered trash can and being sure not to leave damp towels around.
DEAR SUN SPOTS: I saw the column about getting rid of ants. When I lived in Massachusetts, there were several types of ants.
For tiny brown ants that were invading the house, I put borax powder around the foundation and didn’t see any more.
To get rid of a big ant nest under the clothesline, I filled a bucket with hot water and ammonia and poured it down the next.
To stop bugs from eating the garden, my cousin planted marigolds between each plant, and the garden was bug-free.
Dr. Jarvis used granite dust around plants to kill mites eating his prized flowers. And I read the Japanese use tobacco juice to kill bugs.
If nothing works, maybe getting ant-eating animals may be the answer. They are safer on the environment. — Gabrielle De Moras, Lewiston
ANSWER: Borax is a very popular antidote to ants and is the key ingredient in some insecticides.
As for bringing in ant-eating animals, it can be dangerous to introduce nonnative plants or animals. Sometimes they prove more troublesome than the problem they were brought in to deal with in the first place.
DEAR SUN SPOTS: I have a good way to get rid of bugs cheap when you can’t reach them with a fly swatter. I always keep a cheap can of hard-to-hold hairspray handy to give them a dose. The wings get stiff and they fall to the floor so you can pick them up.
It works on anything with wings. Of course I wouldn’t do it to a bird.
It always works to starch my flimsy curtains. It’s faster and easier than making starch. — J.B.T., Lewiston
ANSWER: Sun Spots does see one problem with this idea: Hairspray can be sticky, so you might end up with a sticky ceiling!
GOOD MORNING, SUN SPOTS! This is in response to the writer asking how to keep their bananas from turning black. Wrap a bag around the stems, either with a baggie and a small elastic, or I use a produce bag and kind of wrap it over and around and in between and around the stems and it really does seem to slow down the ripening process.
I’ve heard its a gas coming from the stem that causes them to ripen. We are able to keep our bananas through the week now. Hope this helps. Thank you for all you do, Sun Spots! — Donna DiConzo, West Paris
DEAR SUN SPOTS: The McLaughlin Garden in South Paris is sponsoring its second annual Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular from 6 to 8 p.m. Oct. 24 and 25. We would love to make the event even bigger by having more pumpkins.
We would graciously accept pumpkin donations in any amount by Oct. 20 so that they can be distributed to students and the “young at heart” who are carving for the event.
Anyone who wishes to bring a carved jack-o-lantern to the garden on Oct. 23 will receive a free ticket to the event. Everyone is invited to see the display. The admission of $5 for adults, $3 for children aged 6 to 17, and includes free cider and popcorn.
Further information may be obtained at 743-8820. Thank you, Sun Spots, for helping us to get the word out and thank you to anyone who has a pumpkin to donate! — Harriet Robinson, email@example.com
This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.