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Field Notes

Covering the natural wonders of the Pacific Northwest

August 5, 2011 at 10:25 AM

It’s fruit fly season, but how do you get rid of them?

From Times staff researcher David Turim

What’s wrong with this picture?

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Anyone living in Seattle wouldn’t dare do this right now: Leave a nice bowl of succulent, juicy blackberries, or a box of raspberries on the counter uncovered. And you wouldn’t even think about leaving the lid off the counter-top compost bucket. Now is the season of the lid, the covered container, even the dreaded plastic wrap on any edible, or especially sweet, juicy surface. Not even a glass of red wine is safe, without a napkin draped over the top. Unless, of course, you prefer your wine with a sprinkling of drowned fruit flies, and your kitchen abuzz.

Lynda Mapes photo

The season of the fruit fly is upon us, and the clouds of berry-loving drosophila that await us in the kitchen each morning transform some humans into towel-snapping Ninjas of drosophila destruction. How do they appear? Are eggs in the fruit? I’ve been eating bug eggs?

Nope, that’s not it — they arrive from the great outdoors, tiny enough to get through window screens, and once inside, they can live on just about anything… even a diet of alcohol fumes, just like my old roommate. But unlike him, they seem to most prefer good old wholesome fruit.

Other fascinating features of these maddeningly persistent bugs include:

— Their gorgeous intestines — move over Chihuly!

— The lusty ladies of drosophilia, whose indiscriminate promiscuity is key to species survival.

— And fruit fly brain mapping — while the flies’ brain has about 0.0001% the amount of neurons as yours, the human brain is likely to consist of “similar basic operation units.”

— Also, let us not forget Tin Man, Cheap Date and Out Cold

So let’s all love the fruit flies!

Unconvinced? Ok, then. Here’s how to get rid of ’em:

— Take a small shallow cup or bowl

— Put malt liquor, vinegar or meat juices in it

— stretch plastic wrap tightly over it

— poke some holes in the plastic wrap, just a few; flies will get in but they won’t come out.

You should have several dozen in there within a few hours.

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