The Desperate Desire of Fruit Flies

Updated: Sep 24, 2018

I'm a fiction writer, but am fond of science.  And theories.  Especially my own. 

When I think I've landed on an amusing idea, I don't research Google to discover if someone else has beat me to the concept.  But if I did, most likely I'd find some data and a pile of opinions.  Since I'm a day-dreamer and imagine theories and stories all the time, it makes me happy to believe them so consequently I ignore the likely possibility that my idea is colliding with some others.  In my mind there is always room for colliding ideas, stories, opinions and even research.


I have no official letters after my name that designate me a researcher.  I'm content with that.  I never wanted to sit that long.  I'm not obliged to follow an approved protocol, nor am I ashamed to admit that anecdotal evidence is fine with me.  My interest lies mostly with the behaviors of people anyway.  People are amazing and complex and at times unpredictable.  I'm not at all against things or animals or even insects.  It's just that I soon tire of their stories unless they intersect with people.  This brings me to the intersection of tonight's theory about fruit flies.


Those tiny (and who wouldn't say; annoying) critters have been so sexual and prolific in my kitchen lately that it made me wonder about them all day. I am aware those tiny sweetness mongers have been the focus of many studies.  I vaguely remember having to learn about them in zoology as a student.  Luckily, all those facts have been lost in my memory archives for decades and I am now free to imagine a theory worth thinking about.  Put into context, I'll need to back up to describe why fruit flies have captured my interest for more than a moment which is normally all they deserve and is also about the length of their life cycle.


This week I was scrolling down the graffiti on FaceBook, which I think can be a disseminator of cool information when its not too mundanely personal.  There was a post about preventing black flies from populating your home.  It caught my attention because it had an enlarged graphic of a house fly and I'd already seen the suggestion put into action at my favorite frozen yogurt place.  Since, I've proven to myself that it works over the past three very warm days.


Fill a gallon size zip-lock plastic bag with water and some pennies.  Nine pennies seemed right to me, and I have my esoteric reasons for that.  Hang it above your door on the inside if it opens out. (Here is where it doesn't matter how observant one is.) I have no idea which way doors usually open.  I have to manage two in order to exit my kitchen.  The inner opens out and the outer opens in.  It's an old house.  Caveat: my windows are screened but my doors are not.


I was curious enough about this method to read a few comments under the post.  Enough to realize no one knows why it works for sure,  but it does, so why care why. Trust me, there will be NO black flies in your home after this procedure.  Fruit flies, however, are another issue altogether.


Yesterday I was careless about those fruit flies.  A basket of fruit was left on the counter.  Their population exploded into the uninvited hundreds.  I hastily placed the basket in the frig thinking that would solve the breeding frenzy.  Not.  They had sex on my coffee cup, some lemon juice on a knife, the spoon I forgot to rinse, they were everywhere.  My theory now is that they hatch in the afternoon to float around in swarms.  Round about dusk they land on any surface with the faintest memory of food and have sex again, float a bit more, then die.  It doesn't take long.  By dark they're gone without a corpse in site and nowhere to be seen in the morning.


I don't even want to think about any food item they may have visited which I may have ingested nor where they decide to end their lives.  For this story about a theory let's just say they missed landing on anything that went into my mouth and politely deposited themselves into the trash at their last gasp.  I didn't take the trash out last night since it was nearly empty, and my compost container under the sink latches tightly, but somehow a new mega-batch was born late this afternoon.


I thought I'd learned something so all day today I was vigilant, meticulous in wiping down counters and washing everything that food or drink had touched as soon as immediately.

Earlier I'd been to the Farmer's market and picked up some fresh berries.  I washed them and froze some, the rest went into the frig or my mouth.  No food, no attractive anything was left out and for most of the day, no tiny flies.  My back door was open all day. Not a black fly in site.


Tonight fruit flies, albeit a few less than hundreds, are all over my kitchen again. I posit that those mad little lovers don't give a fig about feeding.  It's their desperation for sex and procreation on a sweet surface that is their urgent calling.  Tonight there isn't anything sweet or otherwise left out or under the sink in my kitchen.  I am curious to see if the numbers are down again tomorrow afternoon.


PostScript:     The fruit fly numbers have dwindled to almost zero.  And still not a black fly yet to be seen.




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