Regardless of what the calendar reads, I know without a doubt when fall has arrived where I live in northern Colorado. It's not evident necessarily by a change of temperature or even trees beginning to turn color, because both are still very summerlike. Around here, it's tiny, annoying, persistent fruit flies that signal that autumn cannot be far away. Apparently, I am not the only one noticing this.
Dear Mary: I have been having a real problem with fruit flies. I've tried numerous remedies, but they're still everywhere. I don't have any fruit out. No open bottles of booze. I just can't seem to get rid of them. Please help! — J.W.
Dear J.W.: Fruit flies can be a problem year-round but are especially common during late summer and early fall because they are attracted to ripened or fermenting fruits and vegetables. They may not be in your house, but your neighborhood is most likely enjoying a harvest of tomatoes, melons, squash, grapes and other perishable items, which are breeding grounds for these tiny critters.
Fruit flies are also attracted to rotting bananas, potatoes, onions and other unrefrigerated produce purchased at the grocery.
All it takes is one pregnant fruit fly to get in. Before you know it, you're dealing with a full-fledged fruit fly infestation. I know. I've been battling this problem, too! That's why I know that my fly traps work. To make your own fruit fly trap, assemble these supplies: a small glass bowl, plastic wrap, apple cider vinegar (no other types of vinegar or juice) and liquid dish soap.
Pour some apple cider vinegar into the bowl. Add a drop (no more, no less) of liquid dish soap. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap, pulling the wrap back just a tiny bit at one edge to allow for entry.
Don't skip any of these steps. The apple cider vinegar by itself has significant surface tension. That means the fly can actually walk on the surface, take a sip and then use it for a runway to take off. The soap breaks that surface tension, and the plastic wrap helps make sure that sucker gets hopelessly trapped.
That's it. Just set the bowl out on the counter and go about your business.
Dear Mary: How can I clean and improve the condition of my garden clippers? I came across four old, tarnished and dirty shears. What do I use to clean them up and make them usable? What kind of oil is best to lubricate them? — Dorothy
Dear Dorothy: First, clean the tools with soap and water to remove any dirt and debris. Next, soak the metal parts in a 50-50 solution of white vinegar and water, at least overnight but longer as needed.
Remove them from the solution, and wipe them down with a rag or paper towel to dry. Then clean the rust off with steel wool. Heavily rusted blades may need a second soaking after the first layer of rust has come off. You may have to work at this a good bit, depending on how badly these shears have rusted. Once they're clean, sharpen the blades as necessary, and then lubricate the moving parts with fresh motor oil (any grade will do), the kind you put in your car.
Consider storing your tools in a bucket of sand mixed with enough motor oil to resemble wet snow. Plunge the blades down into the wet sand between uses. This will keep the tools lubricated and also prevent them from rusting again.
Dear Mary: Following your recommendation, I purchased — and love — my new Eufy HomeVac cordless stick vacuum. Now I need to know where I can purchase a HEPA-style filter replacement. — Pamela
Dear Pamela: Your best bet is to get filters on Amazon. You want the Eufy HomeVac replacement HEPA-style filter, accessory for T2401. It's about $7.
I've been using my Eufy HomeVac stick vacuum for nearly a year, and I have not replaced the filter yet. I empty it regularly and blow out the filter. But I have a new one on hand and ready to go because when that thing wears out, I don't want to wait even a few days for a replacement. I'm impatient that way!
To J.W., Dorothy and Pamela: Thanks for writing. It was great to hear from you!
Mary invites questions, comments and tips at [email protected], or c/o Everyday Cheapskate, 12340 Seal Beach Blvd., Suite B-416, Seal Beach, CA 90740. This column will answer questions of general interest, but letters cannot be answered individually. Mary Hunt is the founder of www.DebtProofLiving.com, a personal finance member website and the author of "Debt-Proof Living," released in 2014. To find out more about Mary and read her past columns, please visit the Creators Syndicate webpage at www.creators.com.