Scientists Use Fruit Flies to Advance Genetic Science

Fruit Fly and White Background

You and I both know that fruit flies are pests. This is particularly true in California where our headquarters is located. It wasn’t all that long ago that much of the fruit crops throughout the state were threatened by the Mediterranean Fruit Fly and we still have laws in effect that strictly guard our crops to make sure they don’t come back.

It’s kind of a funny thing to think about considering how tiny most fruit flies are. It just proves that old adage that the smallest things can pack the biggest punch.

So, it’s established, that fruit flies are, generally speaking, pests and Western Exterminator are experts in helping people with fruit fly infestations to get rid of them. However, there are people in the scientific world who absolutely love fruit flies. If you are finding fruit flies or other pests around your home, contact us and find out how Western Exterminator pest control specialists can help!

Why Fruit Flies?

You are probably already familiar with the use of animals for scientific research. When it comes to finding cures and testing drugs the scientific community still prefers to use other pests like rats and mice, but that’s not the case when it comes to scientists studying genes and gene therapy. For those scientists, the fruit fly is almost tailor made.

You see, fruit flies don’t live very long. They also have relatively simple respiratory, circulatory systems. That means they are easy to study and when a genetic scientist does an experiment with the genes of a fruit fly that same scientist can see the effects very quickly even into the next generation of fly.

By the way, if you have been experiencing a more pest-like variety of fruit flies around your home, be sure to contact us at Western Exterminator and find out how we can help and to get more information about our services.

Genes are Complex, Fruit Flies Are Simple

With that in mind, scientists have found that manipulating the genes of fruit flies is much easier than with humans or more complex creatures. So, this has allowed them to conduct a number of genetic experiments. For example, a recent experiment changed an entire species of fruit fly from brown colored to blonde.

This may seem rather silly and simple – so what? Ah, but it’s just a small step that could end up changing the world.

Real World Applications

The experiment was done at the University of California and a scientist manipulated the genes of one species of fruit fly. These flies were brown, but once the manipulation was done, their offspring came out blonde. This proved that it was possible to alter the nature of an entire species by manipulating a few genes. Some scientists are saying this could change the way they look at genetic testing and experimentation.

Scientists are calling this discover a “gene drive.” This allows them to make changes that are then passed down to next generations of flies and that will work – every time. For scientists this could have applications when it comes to manipulating genes on diseases, changing mosquitoes that spread malaria and other diseases by removing their ability to do so, creating bacteria that would consume oil spills and other applications.

Changes Are a Long Way Off

Of course, there are also those that worry about genetically modified pests and what they might do to the environment if they are let out. That means it seems unlikely that genetically modified, disease-free, mosquitoes are probably a long way off.

However, it is amazing to think that great discoveries that could ultimately benefit all of mankind might come from the tiniest of creatures. Even ones as big of a nuisance as the fruit fly.

In the meantime, if you have fruit flies around your home or property, they are more than likely still pests. Contact us today and we’ll help you get rid of them or help you deal with other pest issues you might be experiencing.



Mr. Little

He’s represented Western for nearly a century. But he’s no old fogey. Follow Mr. Little’s blog for pest tips and facts!

Leave a Reply



Call your local branch


or fill out your details and we will call you back

Bill pay and login