DEAR SUN SPOTS: Do you have a name in your Rolodex for someone who repairs leather jackets and chaps — Charlotte, no town

ANSWER: Check in with Maine Line Leather at 850 Main St. in Lewiston (782-6622). If they can’t help you, they may know someone who can. They’re open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Readers, send your recommendations.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: This letter is in response to Kathleen and her unresolved fruit fly problem (Jan. 24 Sun Spots). I feel your pain! When we started making and selling fudge quite a few years ago, we had a similar problem. The little buggers seemed particularly fond of blueberry fudge. I had tried everything you mentioned and still had a problem. Then I was finally able to locate the source(s) of their breeding ground. I am fairly sure that’s the key to it all.

I sealed both sink drains at night and eliminated anything damp like a dish cloth and towels, sponge or even the dish brush used to clean the spatulas. We kept the brush submerged in soapy water. This did the trick and we haven’t had a problem since implementing this procedure and now only need to do this during the summer months. Take care of any potential breeding grounds and best of luck! — Pam and Mark, The Corn Shop Trading Company, Bridgton

DEAR SUN SPOTS: In response to the reader who reported being inundated with fruit flies, I’d like to suggest that those pesky bugs may, in fact, be soil gnats, not fruit flies (which they closely resemble). If there are any house plants on the premises, there’s a very good chance that is the source of the problem. The gnats are attracted to moist potting soil in which they lay their eggs, that then hatch into larvae and feed on fungus or other organic matter in the soil.

To eradicate the problem, saturate the top layer of the soil with a 1:4 mixture of hydrogen peroxide and water. This will kill the eggs and larvae and will not harm the plant.

Any of the adult gnats that are still flying around are likely to lay more eggs in the soil once the peroxide has evaporated so repeated applications will be necessary until the flies are all dead, either from well-aimed swats or from old age (they live only a week at most).

To discourage soil gnats (and avoid root rot), it’s best to let the top layer of the soil dry out a bit between watering, and, if possible, water the pots from below which also encourages root growth.

Be vigilant whenever bringing a new plant, even a new bag of potting mix, into your house because there could be baby soil gnats lurking in there. Once they get going, they’re a real challenge to get rid of as they’re likely to invade all the plants in the house. — Cindy, Lewiston

ANSWER: Wow! What informative letters. It will be interesting to see if these suggestions work for our friend with the fly problem. Kathleen, please let us know when your kitchen plague is over.

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 [email protected].

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