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The Fruit Fly

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I’m walking on the treadmill this morning at the MAC Center earlier this week, something I actually do three days a week, and the conversation with the lady next to me turned to the Fruit Fly.  It’s fall and it is the season for the little buggers to be everywhere. The decay of fruit and vegetables and the fact we are surrounded by fifty acres of soybeans I’m sure acts as a lure for the tiny pests.


Protection by a Smithwick’s coaster.

I mentioned that I was of the opinion red wine attracts more flys than white wine. I was told her remedy against the pests was to dampen a paper towel over the glass after pouring, personally I prefer a coaster as protection. As quick as I can be, I’ll slip the coaster off, take a sip of the grape and damn if there isn’t a floating fly in the nectar. I often wonder if the interloper gets toasted prior to drowning. Don’t ever take a deep breath through your nose while they’re around either, you will surely suck a few up your nostrils.

The average life span of the pests is about 30 days. An adult female can lay upwards of 500 eggs during her brief life. Those eggs can hatch into larvae in as little as 12 hours. After the larvae feed for 4 days they pupate, and after another 3 or 4 days they emerge as adult fruit flies, ready to begin mating again within just a few hours. Be you a lover of Chardonnay, Cabernet or Merlot, where ever you put your glass, the Fruit Fly will go.


Besides our daily ration of wine, ripening pears, apples and tomatoes on the windowsill work equally well as a lure for the Drosophila melanogaster.

How Fruit Flies Find Your Wine

By Jeanna Bryner, Live Science Managing Editor A fruit fly (Drosophila melanogaster) explores its environment with a series of straight flight paths punctuated by rapid 90-degree body-saccades.  Credit: Andy Reynolds

Uncork a bottle of your favorite Cabernet outside in the summer and odds are good a pesky fruit fly will find your glass by the time the glass finds your lips. Turns out, the teensy party crasher navigates using mathematical rules that maximize the chances it will locate your full-bodied drink.
“Wine is extraordinarily attractive to them,” said the new study’s co-author Mark Frye of UCLA. “I wouldn’t be surprised if the animal came from half a kilometer away.”
Scientists have known that fruit flies (Drosophila melanogaster) use visual cues to make quick turns and prevent nasty collisions with nearby objects.
“So we knew what was causing a fly to steer when it got close to things,” Frye said. The new study, published in the April issue of the journal PLoS ONE, reveals what they didn’t know: why the flies make swift twists and turns when out in the middle of nowhere, far away from obstacles.
Frye and his colleague, Andy Reynolds of Rothamsted Research in England, used two video cameras to track fruit flies in dome-like enclosures, at the bottom of which they hid an odor source. Inside the enclosure, each fly made a bunch of 90-degree turns followed by a longer straight path.
“With all of those small turns they search the local vicinity and then make a foray to move away and then they search that local vicinity again and make a foray,” Frye told LiveScience.
An analysis of the paths showed the flies followed a tried-and-true method for sniffing out the odor.
“Their strategy is trying to optimize two things,” Frye said. “They want to detect something that’s very faint, and they want to move around enough that they don’t get stuck in one place where there aren’t any good smells.”
The fly’s seemingly erratic flight paths match up with a mathematical algorithm called Lévy’s distribution, which optimizes the chances of finding a tasty snack.
Humans do the same thing without realizing it, while, for example, standing in the kitchen and trying to pinpoint the source of a noxious odor. “You stand still and sniff around and realize it’s not here, so you move down to the refrigerator and you sniff again—am I getting warmer or colder?” Frye explained.

If you want to get rid of the pests take a minute and view the following:

If you are a person of great patience, just await the first frost and they shall begin to disappear.






  1. Paula Wright says:


  2. Fascinating flight facts! That was a great surprise, to be rewarded with practical traps from Good Housekeeping. I’m going to rig up something as soon as I finish reading this. Thank you very much. Our temperatures are heading downward, also, but I think we’ll have a bit of warmth before Mother Nature gets serious.

  3. 24 hours later — I made a fruit fly trap by putting a little organic vinegar in a small glass and covering it with plastic wrap. I poked a small hole in the middle. Several hours later, there were two drowned flies in the vinegar. I made the hole a bit larger, and now there are many more dead flies. This is MARVELOUS! Thank you.

  4. Glad your getting captures.

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