Monday, November 09, 2009

Drosophila Melanogaster

They say that time flies like an arrow, but fruit flies like a banana.







As I type this, I am surrounded by a small cloud of flying insects. To my right, a glass of Wolf Blass Yellow Label Chardonnay is crawling with the little buggers. They don't dart around like the blue-arsed flies, banging their heads against the windows in idiot desperation. Nor do they patrol with humming menace like the wasps, daring you to try and swat them. No, they hover around with a casual insouciance, silent, but always there, just in the periphery of your vision. They're difficult critters to kill, too. Unless you're prepared to leave a sticky fruit bowl out overnight. Or an empty wine glass.


So why, you might be forgiven for asking, is my study, my writing sanctum, awash with fruit flies? Well, it has something to do with the Can-o-Worms in the basement next door. This wondrous contraption turns our potato peelings and other vegetal detritus into lovely compost and serious plant food. But someone, sometime recently, put a banana skin in it. Worms will eat banana skins as happily as they'll eat lettuce leaves and dog hair, but not before the thousands of little foreign fruit fly eggs that hitched a ride over on the banana boat have hatched. With the lid firmly in place, this is not a problem. They can't get out and eventually die, their tiny bodies adding valuable nutrients to the soil that will feed my garlic collection come the spring. This morning however, unaware that someone had broken the most sacred law and put a banana skin in the Can-o-Worms, I lifted the lid to chuck in a bit of lettuce that had been lurking at the back of the fridge and making everything smell bad. Cue frenzied insect-wing activity and a cloud of tiny chitinous bodies bursting upwards towards the light. I'm free! I'm free! Now, what shall I do?


I tried to encourage them all outside, by leaving the basement door open and turning the lights off. We even had some nice sunshine to tempt them forth this afternoon. But most of them have found their way into my study, so for the next few days I will have company as I try to get back into the flow of writing.


Until the spiders get them all, of course.




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2 Comments:

Anonymous norby said...

Ah Drosophila-genetics class how I miss thee!!! Hemotology is killing me!!!

November 10, 2009 12:55 am  
Blogger John R said...

Ah, the Can-O-Worms. I had one of those for a couple of years and it was an absolute fly-ey nightmare. Not to mention doing a slow job of eating stuff, and needing a compost heap anyway for all the things you're not supposed to put in it.

The heap outlasted the worms and a tumbler device, which was also prone to causing a stink the moment anything remotely wrong entered its vicinity.

All in the past, since I no longer have a garden, of course.

November 10, 2009 11:15 pm  

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