Friday, September 24, 2010

Drosophila melanogaster

In more common term – fruit fly.
fruit fly3The Frog & PenguINN and other places around the Eastern Shore are being invaded by these annoying pests. You can just about tell what season it is when they arrive – late  summer/fall cause they are attracted to ripened or rotting fruits and vegetables. This is largely an agricultural area with lots of tomato fields and home gardens.
While fruit flies are mainly nuisance pests, they can contaminatefruit fly1 food with bacteria and disease-producing organisms. These tiny winged insects  are only 0.2 inches (3mm) long and move very fast – just try to kill one. They are brownish in color, with striped bodies and large red eyes. Not one would pose for a macro close-up; these photos were from an internet search.

fruitfly mobThese tiny insects are adept in smelling food from great distances. This ability and their tiny bodies, lets them enter homes through window screens, door jams, or any other small crevice. They also hitch rides in  grocery bags or hatch from eggs laid in produce brought home.  Fruit flies feed on alcohol produced when fruits and vegetables begin to ferment. Avoid serving wine and beer when they’re around – they’re like freeloaders. Vinegar favorites are  balsamic and cider.
So is there’s anything GOOD about these pests? Actually these tiny insects have made a huge name for themselves in the field of science – especially genetics. The short, 10-day life cycle of the fruit fly, its quick ability to reproduce, and its large chromosomes make it an ideal specimen for laboratory experiments in heredity. Plus they’re free and lay eggs that hatch into larvae in a matter of hours.
ammo fruit flies (5)But the only scientific experiments, we’ve been conducting now involves their eradication. Folks living here told us about  this simple and quite effective way to trap fruit flies – and it also kills them. All you need is apple cider vinegar, sugar and dish detergent and a small bowl.
White vinegar does not work. Balsamic vinegar, malt vinegar and red wine work, but not as well as apple cider vinegar. Beer sometimes works and so does wine, but apple cider vinegar is cheaper.

Pour the apple cider vinegar into a small dish (custard dish is perfect). The vinegar evaporates quickly so the more that’s used, the less often it will need to be replaced. Sprinkle a little sugar on the vinegar, then drop some detergent on top. 
fruit flies dead The fruit flies are attracted to the vinegar smell, and the detergent traps them.

WHY? Because the detergent reduces the surface tension of the liquid allowing the flies to more readily sink and drown. Change the solution as needed – usually when you have lots of “victims.”

When do they leave town? As soon as the weather turns cold or the first frost comes.


Anvilcloud said...

We don't seem to be experiencing that particular plague, and I am not anticipating the first frost with eagerness.

possum said...

Hmmm, I never put sugar in mine... just vinegar and a drop of Ivory seems to do the trick.
As much as I don't look fwd to frost, it does have its advantages... and with today looking to go into the 90s, frost looks kinda good. Then again, I am just starting to harvest my fall beans, and still have plents of green tomato and baby tommytoes just getting started.

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Consider yourself fortunate, AC, because FF are an annoyance in that until it gets cooler we refrain from keeping fresh fruit in the kitchen. We sure do miss morning smoothies with mangoes and bannanas!

Hi Possum, the honey may be even sweeeter and more sttractive, but I prefer not to share with these intruders. Agreed that the first frost does have some advantages...sure it will be awhile so you can get the fall harvest in. If you need tomatoes, we also had lots of green ones which may be ripening soon, so feel free to pick.

The cottage by the Cranelake said...

The only time we may have problems with these guys is when we don´t throw away fruits directly when they get bad. Or as in my case when I have been to lazy going out to the compost with all fruit/vegetable rests that I collect in a milk cartoon on the kitchen sink.

These flies can´t live in our cold climate but comes as eggs with imported fruit or vegetables to us.

Have a great day now!

Beatrice P. Boyd said...

Christer, once the invasion starts, usually in mid-Sept, we no longer keep any fresh fruit in the kitchen and really miss having it available. Thankfully, this is a short-lived invasion and by mid-Oct we can end the war! And, yes they are on produce in local grocery stores, so we avoid buying anything when we see them there.

Anonymous said...

I think our solution of hitting the road is the best. They should all be dead by the time we get home, and we will have eaten lots of lobsta'.

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