We’re going into farming. We bought everything we need for a protein farm and I don’t mean beans, baby. Animal husbandry. Yippee-Ki-Yay. Ordinarily I’m leery of these sorts of projects and balk at the learning curve, but this one seems like a slam-dunk. We’re raising fruit flies.
Git Along, Tiny Dogies
It doesn’t take long to whomp up a complete fruit fly out of practically nothing. The mommy fruit fly lays eggs and poops on them, which really revs up the larvae. There are stages. At one point the larval fruit flies are said to encapsulate in the puparium, and nobody wants to see that.
Fruit fly courtship is nice though. The male vibrates his wings and then licks the female’s genitalia, and although I wouldn’t make a point of watching, I wouldn’t necessarily look away either. The female fruit fly is said to be receptive to the male within ten hours of emerging as an adult. Well, no shit. What with one thing and a mother, you basically get a whole new set of fruit flies every few minutes in warm weather.
I have read up a little. The literature insists there is such a thing as “virgin” and “naïve” fruit flies, the naïve ones being virgins that have not even observed copulation, and there are distinct behaviors associated with each. For instance, sexually experienced males spend less time courting and more time mounting, and naïve males are more likely to try to court sexually immature females, when they could just, like, wait an hour. The whole fruit fly life cycle peters out after about fifteen days, after all, assuming it is not cut short by a hummingbird.
But that’s the plan. We’re raising meat for the hummingbirds. Hummingbirds need solid protein and usually find it in the form of insects or spiders. A hummingbird can edit the spider right out of her web in nothing flat. And that’s the sort of thing she’ll need to feed her own babies. They aren’t all about sucking flowers. She doesn’t just funnel nectar into the wee ones.
There’s a reason people know things like whether a given individual fruit fly has watched fruit fly porn. Fruit flies are one of the most-studied critters on the planet. They’re easy. You can study generations of them in practically no time and they are easily herded, using simple tools like tweezers and undergraduate students.
I’m not too worried about achieving mature, well-marbled fruit flies in our corral, from whence both hummers and bushtits should be able to belly-up for take-out. It is true that in season we have literal tons of rotting fruit on the ground in this neighborhood, figs to plums to berries to apples to, in fact, bananas, in quantities that will seem unfathomable come the big earthquake. So we won’t run out of fruit flies. The reason to keep them in a corral is the same as for any bird feeder. It’s not so much that our birds need our help. It’s that we want to watch.
Fruit flies are so good at replicating themselves that for centuries it was believed they spontaneously generated. The ancients believed they just appeared out of nothing, materialized right out of the aether. Which is nuts.
They’re thinking of blog posts.