The Mystery of Fruit Flies

These itty-bitty bugs (a mere 1/8 inch) are a nuisance. They arrive seemingly out of nowhere when the weather warms, at which point my fruit bowl and compost bins are relegated to the garage for the summer. It is now October and there ONE fruit fly that apparently didn’t get the memo. It really likes to fly around my face.

Now, a little bit of research reveals that fruit flies have a very short lifespan. So, in truth, it’s probably not been the same fruit fly that won’t leave me alone. But it begs the question, where are all the others? They apparently lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime so just a little elementary math suggests that the one irksome fruit fly should be accompanied by its entire swarming family. Is my one fruit fly the Lone Ranger of fruit flies? And why does it like me best?

All of my irritation aside, fruit flies, as it turns out, are fascinating. First, have you ever looked one in the eyes? Of course not – they always seem to be moving. But were you able to actually see their eyes, you’d find they are bright red! Their wings beat an unbelievable 220 times per second. In addition, though they may be small, they have big brains. And if all of that hasn’t grabbed your attention, scientists performing genetic research use fruit flies because their short lifespan allows for the quick study of genetic evolution over generations. Not only that, humans share 75% of the genes that cause disease with fruit flies.

I still wish my fly would go away. But, during the aforementioned research, I also learned that the cold weather doesn’t actually get rid of them indoors. It just stunts the development of new generation. Which means that all my fly’s relatives will be waiting come spring.