Never Swat a Fly



My plants have fungus gnats, those tiny, irritating insects that drift through the house, drowning themselves in our water glasses or soap dish.  At any time of day, someone in the house will suddenly clap their hands.

“Didja get it?” 


For years, I’ve been diligently spraying my house plants’ soil with insecticidal soap.  And it worked for a long time.  But either I’m not being thorough enough, or the newest generation is immune to the spray.

These little insects, I read, are attracted to carbon dioxide.  This explains why they fly into one’s face, and, occasionally, up one’s nose.  They lay eggs in the top layer of soil in house plants’ pots.  The larvae hatch and burrow deeper, living on decayed matter. 

I don’t enjoy killing insects, not even mosquitoes, who adore biting me.  Every time I do squash a spider or insect, I think about the Jain monks and their vows of total non-violence.  The monks walk barefoot wherever they go to avoid crushing any living thing.  They also carry a broom made of woolen threads, using it to sweep away creatures in their path. 

I am not so conscientious.  Arachnids and insects in the house are either captured and released outside, or killed.  The fungus gnats are so annoying that my twinges of guilt last barely a millisecond.

One helpful video advises putting some apple cider vinegar in a little dish.  The gnats will drown themselves in it.  Also, one can make a triangle out of thick yellow paper (school folder, or paint strip sampler) and coat it with Vaseline.  Cinnamon powder on the soil might work as well.

All this pondering on violence to insect life recalled a song from Jim Kweskin’s Jug Band. During my teens, I was a big fan of this band.  My idol was Maria D’Amato, the only female member of the group.  She played the violin and sang in her husky, sexy voice.  She later found fame going solo as Maria Muldaur.

Here’s the link to the recording I used to listen to, and the lyrics.  The song itself dates from the 1930s.

Never Swat a Fly


As recorded by JIM KWESKIN & THE JUG BAND:

Never swat a fly

He may love another fly

He may sit with her and sigh

The way I do with you


Never harm a flea

He may have a favourite she

That he bounces on his knee

The way I do with you


Never hurt a bee

If he is going anywhere

You may be concluding

Some terrific love affair, be careful


Don’t step on an ant

In the middle of a plant

He may want to, but he can’t

The way I do with you

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