Drat Those Gnats!Posted: June 20, 2013
Mom had been complaining about “little black flying bugs” for a couple of weeks. She claimed that they were overrunning the house. Bill and I would kill one or two a day, but didn’t think it was out of control or that the house was teeming with gnats. Mom, however, continued to assert that we were infested and that the little buggers were constantly trying to fly up her nose.
Mom was convinced that they were getting in through the screens. The fact that daytime temperatures have been in triple digits for weeks and the windows and doors have been shut tight didn’t matter. These gnats apparently had the ability to pass through glass and wood siding and brick and mortar in order to fulfill their sole purpose – which was to drive Mom crazy by setting up housekeeping in her nose.
The mystery was finally solved last weekend.
There’s a potted plant on the kitchen table. It contains a Cyclamen that our neighbor, Gisella, gave Mom when she returned from rehab last year. Cyclamen are winter bloomers and, here in Phoenix, they do very well indoors. Once it stops blooming all that remains are the green, heart-shaped leaves. We continued to water and fertilize through winter, but, as spring moved toward summer, the leaves began to curl and yellow and it became more ‘gangly’ looking.
During breakfast last Sunday, Mom spotted a couple of the dreaded gnats crawling on the leaves and stems. “Look at there,” she exclaimed, poking at the plant with her finger. “I’ll bet that’s where they’re coming from.” We all watched a single bug fly up and then settle back onto the plant before making its way down a stem and into the potting soil.
Right after breakfast, Bill threw the plant away and washed out the pot, which we decided to fill with silk flowers that wouldn’t require water, fertilizer or bugs to survive. After returning from the craft store, I sat happily in the Arizona Room, constructing artificial flora into, what I hoped would be, an attractive arrangement.
I was getting a cup of coffee a week later when Mom motored into the kitchen, parked and appeared to be staring out the window.
“What’s up?” I asked.
“I guess that’s all they needed,” she commented.
“All who needed?”
“The flowers,” she said.
“The one’s on the table. The ones with the bugs,” she explained.
“All they needed for what?”
“To bloom,” she replied. “Didn’t this happen because you put it outside?”
“Didn’t what happen?”
“The plant. It got all these flowers after you left it outside for a while.”
“Are you talking about the plant on the kitchen table?” I asked.
“Yes. It’s got flowers now so maybe all it needed was some sunshine,” she replied.
“Mom, that plant died and we threw it away, along with the gnats,” I said. “This doesn’t look anything like the other plant.”
“Oh, well then, when did you grow this one?” she asked.
“I didn’t. I put it together last Sunday.”
“Well that was fast,” she said, spinning around and heading out the door.
“It’s a silk plant, Mom,” I shouted at her retreating wheelchair. “I arranged it, I didn’t grow it.”
“Okay. That explains it then,” she called back to me. “Hopefully, it won’t get little black flying bugs too.”
“It’s fake. Bugs won’t like it,” I yelled.
“We’ll see,” she commented ominously. “We’ll see.”