I was praying in my living room a few mornings ago, sitting comfortably in my chair with my journal on my lap, when all of a sudden out of nowhere a lone fruit fly showed up. “Where in the heck did you come from?” I asked incredulously. He (or she) hovered over my hand for a brief moment and then disappeared, causing me to ask, “Where in the heck did you go?” Ordinarily I expect to see fruit flies in the heat of summer. But January?
This fruit fly’s appearance aroused my curiosity. So later, I did a little research. After all, even the lowly fruit fly is a part of God’s vast creation and deserves attention. But when I searched “fruit flies” on the internet, these headings came up: removal, home remedies, traps. It was easy to see that fruit flies are viewed primarily as pests. But I knew fruit flies had to be more than pests, so I continued reading about them and learned some fascinating things. (I hope you find these fascinating too.)
But before I get to those, let me tell you what you should do if you have a fruit fly “problem.” I’ll be brief. When you bring fresh fruit into your home, you’re probably bringing in fruit flies too. Most likely, your fruit already has fruit fly eggs on it. So the best thing to do is wash your fruit carefully, even using a small brush if possible. Then keep your fruit in an air tight container or refrigerator. WikiHow gives several ways to get rid of fruit flies. 1) Put out a small dish of apple cider vinegar. It’s a trap for them. 2) Make a sticky swatter by coating a paper/styrofoam plate in cooking oil, let it dry a bit, and then swat away. The flies will stick to the oil. I’ll spare you the details of other methods. One involves burning incense, another a blow dryer.
Now to the some fascinating facts about fruit flies. Fruit flies belong to the drosophila melanogaster family of insects. This family has over 4,000 different species! Since the 20th Century they have often been used in scientific research. Why? First, they are cheap to raise. Obviously, fruit flies don’t eat much and they don’t require a lot of space. Second, fruit flies proliferate very quickly. (That raises the question: Do fruit flies have more fun?) Fruit flies mature rapidly too, going from an embryo to an adult in just two weeks! This enables researchers to study multiple generations in a short time.
Sometimes scientists need to tell fruit flies apart for their research. Ordinarily fruit flies have red eyes. But one researcher bred a mutant strain with white eyes so he could tell which fruit flies were his. Another researcher needed virgin females for his experiments. This entailed careful examination of his fruit flies—first to separate the females from the males. How do you examine such teeny weeny creatures? By anesthetizing them and very gently examining them under a powerful microscope—using a tiny feather!
Other fun facts: 1) Fruit flies don’t actually eat fruit. They are attracted to the fermenting fungus or rot on overly ripe fruit. 2) Fruit flies live fast and hard. Their life span is 30-50 days. During that time, the female fruit fly can lay 500-2,000 eggs! 3) Fruit flies are “the stars of genetic research.” What we have learned from fruit flies in 30 years, would have taken us 200 years with mice. Fruit flies are more like us humans than we might imagine. Humans have 24,000 genes; fruit flies have 14,000! 4) The brain of the fruit fly has 100,000 neurons that can direct complex behaviors like sleep, courtship, learning, memory, aggression, grooming, and flight navigation. 5) Fruit flies are like us in other ways. They prefer beers with a fruitier base yeast just as humans prefer. And, if a male fruit fly has been sexually rejected, he often drowns his sorrow in alcohol.
We humans owe much gratitude to the humble fruit fly. Scientific research involving fruit flies have led to six Nobel prizes in Physiology and Medicine. Such research has shed light on genetics, embryonic development, immune disorders, and a whole host of diseases. As one researcher put it: “The fruit fly’s contributions to science are multitudinous!”
Did you learn anything new about fruit flies? What stands out for you?
Did you learn anything about the Creator of fruit flies? If so, what?
Our song today is the old hymn “How Great Thou Art.” This is Susan Boyle’s version of the refrain with beautiful photos chosen by Giula Zarantonello. When we sing this hymn, we often visualize mountains and oceans and stars and galaxies. But we must remember, God’s greatness is shown not only in the humongous, but also in the wee… like the fruit fly!
I invite you to add a comment below! We (my readers and I) love hearing from you!