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Fly be gone: On the road near Delta, Mo.Posted Sunday, August 26, 2012, at 8:40 AM
Bill Mabrey and Watson Hester rest under a shade tree at Hester's country home on Highway 25 between Advance and Delta, Mo. Hester's garden can be seen in the background, as can some puzzling bags of water, hanging from the tree.
Bothered by flies? Watson Hester has a no-cost, no chemical method of fly control that he swears by. It's as simple as a plastic bag, a penny, and about a quart of water.
Hester grows vegetables on his land beside the highway between Delta and Advance, Missouri. He sells some of his produce at a homemade vegetable stand, where his customers are on the honor system.
A Saturday afternoon stop at Hester's stand found the 70-year-old gardener resting in his favorite spot under a tree in his yard with his buddy Bill Mabrey. The two went to school together at Delta.
We've made several stops there, ever since we tasted the tomatoes that Hester grows in his garden, and I did a feature about him for the North Stoddard Countian.
However, this was the first time I had seen his unique method of pest control. Two half-gallon bags of water hung from the tree overhead, and there were two more hanging over the door of a nearby garage.
Other items hung from the tree, just for curiosity's sake. This assortment of wire baskets, a deer antler, and a metal bucket had no significance, other than to provoke conversation, a valuable commodity at the Hester homestead.
"My son studies bugs," Hester says of his entomologist offspring. "He says that the water magnifies the fly's reflection, and it thinks some larger creature is going to eat it."
In fact, the two theories given on the internet do, in fact, involve refraction of the light. According to one site:
The second and slightly more plausible light refraction theory is that the light is refracted in a way that magnifies activity in the vicinity of the bag, and that this movement appears to be a predator, thus making the fly wary of the area.
Mmm...This seems to give more credit to the intelligence of the fly than I would have suspected, but it sounds plausible. The internet source says nothing about the penny.
Whatever the reason for the success of this method of bug repellent, I continue to be amazed by the innovative nature of local gardeners!
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Madeline (Giles) DeJournett is the Advance writer for the North Stoddard Countian. A retired high school English/history teacher, she spent 32 years teaching in 5 schools in Missouri and Alaska. These days, she lives quietly with a menagerie of wild and domestic animals on 52 secluded acres in the remote Tillman hills south of Advance. She graduated from Dexter High School in 1960 and Southeast Missouri State in 1964. She can be contacted at email@example.com.