This Scientist Built A Trap to Get Rid of Fruit Flies

Thomas Merritt, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Laurentian University, created a method to remove fruit flies from kitchens.
Danielle  De La Bastide
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Flies. It's boggling how something so tiny can have such an unpleasant impact on our nerves. One researcher who often works with fruit flies, probably some of the worst (and tiniest) offenders, might have the trick for getting rid of them for good.

In an article for The Conversation, Thomas Merritt, Professor of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Laurentian University details the method he created to remove fruit flies from kitchens and our overall existence. He and colleagues built a fruit fly trap. Peruse the instructions below.

This Scientist Built A Trap to Get Rid of Fruit Flies
Source: Thomas Merritt

1. Take a small jar (we use small canning jars) and pour in cider vinegar to about two centimeters deep.

2. "Cap" the jar with a funnel. You can use a plastic funnel if you have one, but a makeshift paper one works well.

3. Tape the funnel in place, so there are no gaps for the flies to crawl out.

Flies fly in and can't find their way out. Every day or two, replace the vinegar.

Instead of vinegar, you can also use beer or wine, but I prefer to drink one of these while making the traps.

Merritt explained the science behind his invention, Drosophila melanogaster, or a common fruit fly love aging or rotting fruit. They lay eggs upon the fruit and let their progeny feed on the flesh.

To find this fruit, the flies use their sense of smell which looks out for things like acetic acid – the molecule that makes vinegar smell the way it does.

Therefore, vinegar is the best way to trap a fruit fly. This cosmopolitan species, though originally from Africa is unfortunately found everywhere.

This Scientist Built A Trap to Get Rid of Fruit Flies
Source: Thomas Merritt

These tiny fruit intruders are usually prevalent in the summer and fall and originate from a local population. As it gets colder outside the flies are more attracted to the warmer indoors hence why there seems to be an influx of the critters closer to Halloween.

Scientists also have an idea how they get through the winter months, “Our best guess is they hide away in basements waiting for warm weather. There's a name for this idea. We call it the Root Cellar Hypothesis,” writes Merritt.


So why are they so often used in labs? Because they are so similar to humans or any other animal on earth. Lest we forget that each of us sprung forth from a common ancestor, including the tiny flies chewing on the fruit in your kitchen right now.

“Sixty to 80 per cent of genes found in humans are found in flies, and essentially all our biochemistry and metabolism is identical. So when we ask a question using flies, we can answer a question that interests us about humans, It is this relatedness, and the ease of working with them in the lab, that have led to research on flies being the foundation of no less than four Nobel Prizes.”

So perhaps think twice before constructing the trap to eradicate our tiny winged relatives from existence.


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