The sill is strewn with the corpses of my enemies. I pause, remaining absolutely still, as their forces regroup before my eyes. The air hangs heavy with the taste of blood; some of it theirs, some of it mine. Their few remaining numbers swarm across the battlefield, silhouetted in the scorching afternoon sun. It seems that my victory is imminent, but any fool could assume such a thing, and I am no fool. I have seen the true power of their vast ranks, and this I know for certain: Winning the Battle for Right Window is only the beginning. The enemy is all around us now.
-Me, in a text to my mother during the Great Gnat War of ‘16
It was… Actually, it was yesterday, not ‘four score and seven years ago.’
So much for my dramatic entrance.
Anyway, it was morning, and I faced two guinea pig cages in need of cleaning. Not that they were super bad, but with as hot as it had been, I figured clean cages would be a good thing. So I got out of my loft bed and went below decks to where the boys live.
And screamed. Almost.
Innumerable (that’s French for ‘I have no freaking clue how many there were’) little black gnats were swarming up the side of Sirius’s cage. It was like a stampede. I’m not the kind of person who freaks out over bugs, but holy hell there were a lot of them. To this day (which… doesn’t mean much since it only happened yesterday), I don’t know if there had been some in my room that I hadn’t noticed before they bred, or if they had congregated there after methodically squeezing their way through my window screen last night.
Okay, that image seriously has me freaking out. I think I’ll shut the window now. Bugs. The long-awaited sequel to Hitchcock’s Birds.
I keep a squirt bottle filled with vinegar water near the cages for spot cleanings, and it has a little sprayer thing. So I started spraying the little things.
Then I noticed that the gnats were also in Remus’s cage, which is right next to Sirius’s cage.
I grabbed the pigs and put them in their travel carriers. “Consider yourselves evacuated,” I said to them. The girls’ cages were unsurprisingly gnat-free, given that… they’re not boys.
I turned to face the cages. The first thing I did was to remove the wire tops. I was pelted by individual members of a flying black cloud, but I kept going. Next: Remove the cages from the house.
By the time I made it outside to dump the cages, about one-third of the original gnats had been too lazy to fly away. So I put a sizeable dent in their numbers right off. Unfortunately, the remaining two-thirds were still in the house. I took a hose to the cages – just in case – and returned to my room.
Gnats covered the table on which the boys’ cages had been.
I grabbed a tissue, but with my poor hand-eye coordination and my wrist being once again out of whack, I didn’t get any of them.
My mom wasn’t pissed off about any of this, strangely enough. Maybe it was just that she had not seen the sheer volume of gnats that there were, but I would still like to take this sentence to thank whatever deity must have intervened on my behalf.
However, the deity didn’t save us from the work that ensued. We set up the boys’ cages and put everything back. The entire thing had taken more than an hour.
Satisfied – at least with the cages – I turned around to face the girls.
I then discovered where the remaining gnat forces had stationed themselves and screamed something that I have censored for your benefit.
It was about that time that I realized we were fighting a war. The gnats were not only in the girls’ cage setup, they were swarming my window and flying around my room. Despite the fact that their combined brains were the size of my fingernail, I realized that I needed to strategize to solve the problem.
So I retreated, albeit briefly, to the Internet to look up gnat traps. I found that most attracted the gnats with vinegar.
I recalled my previous attempt to spray the gnats with vinegar water.
I dutifully made three of the traps (the most successful of which is pictured above) and set them out, swiping several of the gnats from the window and into the trap when they didn’t go for the bait right away. With the surface tension of the vinegar disrupted by dish soap, the little suckers didn’t have a chance. They sank.
Thus began the Battle for Right Window, where most of the gnats had gathered. I swiped them down into the trap, I swatted them with tissue (unsuccessfully), I cursed them and their parents and their grandparents until I was red in the face.
Mainly because I had gotten a little overenthusiastic with the swiping and had splashed myself in the face with the red wine vinegar, but you get the idea.
Little by little, I took back the territory the pests had claimed from me. I also made several trips in and out of my room, during which the door was left open.
The gnats decided that my dad’s room was better territory and left. There were barely any left by the time it was dark enough for me to implement my genius Flashlight-Suspended-From-The-Curtain-Rod-Hanging-Just-Over-The-Vinegar-So-When-You-Check-Out-The-Light-You-Fall-In-SUUUUCKKKKKKKERRRRS Idea. I made sure the door to my room was shut. The gnats had made their decision; I didn’t want them coming back to my room for vinegar.
And so when I woke up the next morning to sun streaming in through the bug guts smeared all over my window, it was with joy in my heart that I saw no gnats.
The war, having been short but epically fought, was over. I had won.
…A gnat just flew in front of my computer screen.