Apocalypse Then

Living in southern California in the late ’80s was weird.

It was during that time when we experienced a sudden infestation of the Mediterranean Fruit Fly or Medfly as it was lovingly referred to by the local media. (This pen name obviously paved the way for celebrity couple names like Bennifer and Brangelina.)

Eventually, the infestation was tracked down to a person/organization calling themselves The Breeders.

But that wasn’t the weird part of all this.

Because we were apparently overrun with Medflies, they had to be eradicated by whichever way the Department of Agriculture saw fit. In this case, they enlisted the service of some cropdusters whose tanks were loaded up with a mixture corn syrup and Malathion, an insecticide that is considered to be relatively harmless.


The helicopters would fly over at night on a regular schedule, the exact period escaping me at the moment, although I think it was every two weeks. On spraying nights, there would be about three of them lined up and making the rounds, dropping their chemical mix upon the city.

It was recommended that you not go outside during spraying. You also had to cover your car or garage it so that it would not sustain any damage from the mixture, which was sticky and thick as you might expect it to be.

I remember watching them spray. I would stand at my bedroom window and wait for the distant rumble of the helicopters turn into a thunderous drone as they passed over the house. It reminded me of Apocalypse Now.

Now I don’t want to get my tin-foil hat out of the closet but it kind of makes you think.

These days you can’t even buy certain medications over the counter. Back in the ’80s, we were being exposed to insecticide and there wasn’t anything we could do about it.