Saturday, September 27, 2014

Of fruit and flies...

A curious end to the summer, marked by small, unripe fruits and a noticeable absence of wasps and hornets.  Bees in the pool, yes, but few hornets in the vines and fewer wasps.

Now that the warm weather seems to have settled in without interruption of rain or unseasonal cold, the grapes are drying on the vine.  

somewhere in there is a butterfly

I have tried picking bunches of grapes, using the step-ladder but felt too insecure - (old age, wobbly ladder not drink).  Fortunately, the very tall Alexandre - who is also used to walking on stilts - has now forbidden me to use the step-ladder and promised to pick the remaining bunches of grapes. Then we shall make juice, using the steam extractor, followed by grape jelly which is very good with game.  Yes, the hunt season has started!.

In the meantime, the fruit fly hovers over every fruit in the kitchen, lives in hordes in the compost bin which makes one reluctant to raise its lid, and drowns quietly in any unattended glass of wine or other slightly fermented drink.

Considerable skill is required to remove a fruit fly from a glass of fruit juice, whether alcoholic or not.   First, consider the glass - can one get in two fingers or only one?  Are one's fingers sufficiently clean or should one use a spoon handle? To tilt the glass, or not?   

A lot of liquid will pour off either side of whatever implement is being used, finger or spoon handle, taking the drowned fly with it.  If one pushes too hard with finger against glass, one risks smearing the insect against the glass - might just have poured its contents down the sink from the beginning!

On a more serious note:   a Japanese variety of the ubiquitous fruit-fly 'drosophila suzukii' is attacking one of the Perigord's major productions - the strawberry.  According to the local agricultural paper, this fruit fly arrived in the environs around 2011 and now, three years later, is causing enormous physical and so financial damage to the second strawberry crop.  There is talk of a  loss of 600 tonnes of the fruit, resulting in a potential financial loss of 2.3 m euros....No joke, especially considering the economic repercussions (employment not the least of these) as well as the potential need for chemical pesticides....Research is being done on means of distracting the fly (using baker's yeast and powdered sugar) as well as trying to determine its natural parasites.

And here is a butterfly that has had too much grape juice...!

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