It’s Flyday

I don’t have any classes today, so I catch up on my custodial work. That means I’m going to spend a few hours scrubbing fly bottles: bottles caked with medium the consistency of slimy oatmeal, full of maggots, with dead flies scattered around like raisins.

May not have an appetite tonight.

Ah, the glamor of the scientific life…


  1. Ogvorbis: A bear of very little brains. says

    I had oatmeal with raisins for breakfast.

    Well, I hope they were raisins. I’m assuming the tiny crunchy bits were seeds and no chitin.

  2. says

    No. I’m a prof at a liberal arts college that only serves undergrads.

    We offer this job to work study students every year, and no one wants it, for some reason.

  3. kantalope says

    You should get some of that sweet evolution money. I am told they pay enough to buy a soul. Or sole or something.

  4. marcoli says

    I understand, having done it many times. For some reason I never minded the smell though…

  5. busterggi says

    I remember that vaguely – at least the medium in the labs smells better than the medium in their natural habitat.

  6. Joseph Felsenstein says

    Then you may appreciate this story, told to me by my late colleague, the Drosophila geneticist Larry Sandler. 100 years ago, and even more recently than that, most people had their milk delivered in glass bottles to the doorstep. You put out the empties in a metal rack to be collected by the milkman. When Thomas Hunt Morgan was running his Drosophila lab at Columbia University, he used milk bottles that he took from his neighbors’ porches. He put mashed bananas in them, plus yeast, and grew files. Then when he was done with them, the resulting disgusting mess was put back on his neighbors’ porches as empties, for collection by the milkman.

    The milk company was perplexed as to why flies were showing up in the empties. So they had an entomologist identify them. The result is that somewhere there is an entomology tome that, under Drosophila melanogaster notes that it is “also known from milk bottles in New York City”.

  7. davidc1 says

    Like Steve Martin’s character in the Man with two Brains ,i thought all Doctor’s love the slime .

  8. petemoulton says

    I went to a small liberal arts school, and had that work-study job for a couple of years, plus one summer session. Thanks for the memories, PZ!

  9. auntbenjy says

    I’m a tech. This is the kind of job I get handed on a weekly basis. My personal favourites are washing out the intestines for the “Guts” lab, and dissecting hearts from plucks so that students can do heart dissections. It wouldn’t be so bad, but we get all this stuff so fresh it’s still warm…

    Kudos to you for doing it yourself ;)

  10. wzrd1 says

    That means I’m going to spend a few hours scrubbing fly bottles: bottles caked with medium the consistency of slimy oatmeal, full of maggots, with dead flies scattered around like raisins.

    In other words, cafeteria dining at weekend.
    Aka, what I eat at the end of the week from dinner leftovers in my lunch pile at work.”Protein is protein”. ;)

    Yeah, I’m jesting, slightly.
    Wednesday was my “Friday”, I also managed to forget to bring my lunch, as I got distracted on the way out of the door by finding the livingroom TV running and watching itself. So, I turned it off and in passing, then entirely forgot, in my irritation, my lunch.
    So, I ate my three week old penne, which was languishing in the fridge.
    Thursday morning, said Wednesday lunch was breakfast.

  11. marinerachel says

    Wow, you wash the fly bottles, Peez? I take marks of the D. melanogaster lab report if there are fly bottles left in the freezer!

    Sticky blue freeze-dried potatoe and yeast full of larva. Bleh. They can take care of that! I do feel pretty sick about the vials we transfer female virgins into to be mated being plastic though. The students just toss those after 24 hours in the deep freeze and I feel terrible about it.

    The Morgan glass milk bottles though, the students are required to have cleaned for marks by the time they submit the report.

  12. jimzy says

    Perhaps it’s the wording on the recruitment ad? I heard of a prof who wondered why the showing of dermatology films was suddenly so popular. The ad read “skin flicks”.

  13. jack16 says

    Stwriley’s Drosophila program looks wonderful to an old lay person like me. Could there be a comment by PZ?