Emily Rice

Emily Rice is the Lifestyles Editor of the Bluefield Daily Telegraph and the Associate Editor of Prerogative Magazine.

How could I have forgotten? It’s only been a year, is my memory that short?

Claps of hands, slaps on desks, hands waving over faces and victory at kills ring out through the newsroom.

Gnats have descended on The Bluefield Daily Telegraph newsroom once again. I started working here last summer and now that the little annoyances have returned, I remember my own kills of 2018, waving my hand in front of my face as I wrote breaking news at a different desk, slapping my desk only to be disappointed that I had missed another one who would soon return to fly around my face. Now, I may sit at another desk, with a Lifestyles Editor position, but the gnats pay no mind to my status change, they do not discriminate in their quest to annoy.

Every year, Bluefield Daily Telegraph Editor, Samantha Perry offers a ransom of sorts for gnats killed in the newsroom. The rate rising from 50 cents to multiple dollars per gnat as they become more and more annoying. With our morbid humor in the news business, it is a requirement to show a gnat body to receive a bounty. Many times, we ask one another to be witnesses to our kills so that we may receive our ransom.

As I sit at my desk writing this column, my mug is covered by a pad of post-its lest the gnats make their way into my coffee. It is a simple, yet effective method. I have not had a kill yet today, but my current count for the summer is at three. Not great, but not too shabby.

Actually, nevermind, before I could write my next paragraph, a gnat descended on my desk and met his timely demise.

Sports Editor, George Thwaites, took the gnat-killing game to a whole new level this year. He brought an electric flyswatter into the newsroom. During his evening shifts the crackle of the gnats meeting an electrifying end ring out through the newsroom as everyone takes a break from typing their stories on deadline for a quick round of applause and gratitude for this modern innovation miracle.

All of this and more was the inspiration for this week’s feature story on gnats and fruit flies. After speaking with Dr. Miller of the Virginia Tech Entomology Department, I have learned where are gnats are most likely coming from; our potted plants around the newsroom. As soon as I found out, I went around and watered all the plants, attempting to attract the gnats back to whence they came, to no avail. I was sure to let everyone in the newsroom know that if we decided to get rid of the plants, they could come home with me, the office “plant lady.” So far, that does not seem to be on the table. I think we all enjoy having some greenery around, myself included.

Even with my orchid on my desk and my nearly 20 potted plants at home, I do not seem to be plagued as much as many of my colleagues are. I am not sure the reason and would rather not jinx it.

So, my dear readers, I’ll extend the offer to you as well. If, as a result of reading my findings on the origins of gnats, you decide to rid yourself of your potted plants, please don’t throw them away, I will gladly take them, gnats and all.