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Desert Diary

Insects/Fruit Flies 2


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We've all seen pesky little flies buzzing around our fruit baskets. Do these flies seem to have a favorite fruit? Perhaps a look at their scientific name will help. Popular subjects for study among scientists, fruit flies are known as "drosophila", meaning lovers of "fermentation". The researchers who study these flies know the name holds the key to the potion for trapping them—they just need a fruit that creates the unmistakable odor of booze. Bananas ferment quickly, especially if one adds a little yeast. Fearless fly-hunters mash bananas and yeast to make a delectable banana bait.

Perhaps we should not be surprised to learn the other animals are sometimes attracted to the fly traps! On a research expedition, the efforts of Museum Science Educator Kodi Jeffery and her father were hampered by deer, who time and again licked up the bait, flies included! The researchers were further surprised by children, undoubtedly witnesses to the deer's thievery, holding out fly traps to deer, coaxing "Here, deer, here deer". Little did these children know they were frustrating the pursuit of scientific knowledge. pen and ink

Listen to the Audio (mp3 format) as recorded by KTEP, Public Radio for the Southwest.


Contributor: Kodi R. Jeffery, Centennial Museum, University of Texas at El Paso.

Desert Diary is a joint production of the Centennial Museum and KTEP National Public Radio at the University of Texas at El Paso.

rule a deceased fruitfly

Scanned image of a recently deceased fruit fly. Image by A. H. Harris.