I Can Haz Champagne?
Too Much Fun in Grenada *

Pests in Paradise

Yep. Hate to burst your bubble, but flies, gnats, fruit flies, (shudder) cockroaches, and termites all thrive in the Caribbean. We’ve been lucky/diligent and have had no infestation of cockroaches, flour bugs, or termites.

  • All fruit and veggies are washed in vinegar water on deck.
  • No cardboard comes on board. Ever.
  • No paper flour or sugar bags come on board, either.
  • Bay leaves are scattered in all dry good storage areas and placed inside of all dry good containers. (EW has to be careful not to end up with a bay leaf in his cereal. He deals.)
  • We have heard about termites swarming to boats, shedding their wings, and crawling aboard. (Enough to give EW nightmares.) So far, no worries.

But many kinds of flies can be a problem.

I dealt with fruit flies in Maine. Setting out bowls of vinegar topped with dish soap and crowing with the little suckers drowned .

Last year, we met Carl and Carrie on s/v/ Sanctuary in Guadeloupe, where there were an uncomfortable number of house flies due to low winds. Carrie is a hoot; smart, funny, fast-talking Florida woman, and very knowledgeable. She also has a great sense of humor, so I was skeptical when she and Carl told us their method for reducing the fly inventory.

“Didn’t y’all see those bags hanging in the restaurants in Luperon?”


“Every restaurant does it. They hand small baggies up with water in them – and a penny.”


“Sure!” And she gave us some story about the flies seeing their reflection and the penny and believing that it was a wasp. Really. We didn’t believe her, but we didn’t like the flies, so after they left that evening I hung up water filled bags all over the boat.P4261054

Afterward, I told EW, “If Carrie is pranking on us, I’ll never live it down.” I half expected her to laugh uproariously on her next visit to La Luna, saying, “I knew you’d fall for it!”

She didn’t laugh, but commented that I had taken her advice. I think they worked. Or we moved harbors. Or the wind picked up. We left the bags up, and replaced the ones that leaked with new bags every few months. Carrie came aboard in St. Thomas, and was surprised we still had them up. “There aren’t any flies here.”

“Yes,” I said. “Because the bags are up.”

We’re still not sure it really works, but we rarely have an infestation of house flies. So the bags stay up.

We do have a few house flies, and in St. Martin we’ve had small black flies that don’t bite and aren’t attracted to vinegar. They are attracted to sinks. I hate them. I hate any pest, particularly ones that enjoy both the head sinks and the galley sink. This means war.

These little guys are hard to sneak up on with a normal fly swatter, but we’ve found a secret weapon…..a fly swatter that fries those puppies. P5170004

Faster than you can say, “Snap, Crackle, Pop!” I only have to tap counter next to one of those little flies, and the fly will jump up to escape a swatting and fly right into my gizmo. “SNAP!” Every kill is accompanied by a rewarding sound track. Each “Snap!” is usually followed by my crow of delight, “HA! Die you little sucker!”

There may be flies in paradise, but I have a weapon and I know how to use it.

Go ahead, sucker. Make my day.

NOTE: For your information, EW was the first one to accidently zap himself on the finger. By the way he jumped and shouted, I believe we have a formidable weapon. I’ve refrained from trying to fry flies that are sitting on EW’

NOTE 2:  He does not usually smile when armed with this zapper. He usually has a ferocious face and is saying something like, “ DIE, you sucker!”

New to Harts at Sea? I've written a book -- The Harts At Sea Sailing to Windward -- about our first year of cruising, from Maine to Grenada. It's available on Kindle (or Kindle for PC or Kindle for Apple) for only $2.99. No Kindle? You can download Kindle for PC or Kindle for Mac at no cost. 


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Carrie Butler

I love you Barbara. Oh, and miss you very much! Carrie


Hey! I bought on of those Zapper Bug Swatters at Wal-Mart on a whim. You should see how great they work on June bugs!

Darleen najera

Ah ha! Last summer there was a kid at the campground running all around with this thing, making zapping noises, I thought it was some cool toy. This confirms a bug zapper. I want one of those......fun. Miss you!

Lucile Lynch

At least you’re prepared. Here on land, though, it’s always ‘expect the unexpected!’ Cockroaches come from literally everywhere. Sneaky little buggers! Can you positively say that your tactics on water will work here on land as well?


That's a good question, Lucile. We've noticed that our cousins, who live here on St. Thomas, regularly bring cardboard into their homes. I guess they feel as you mentioned, that the buggers will come from all directions. Since we're almost always at anchor we can do a lot to reduce the on board population. I hope. Fingers crossed.

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