Logistics are so important

I can’t really compete with Marcus and Charly in the big time construction and crafting projects, but I did make something that worked really well today. I made a fly-shaker. You know, like a salt shaker, only you shake flies out of it.

I’ve got a lot of spiders right now, all housed in individual vials, and I’ve got many more on the way. In particular, I’ve got 40+ baby spiderlings, with maybe a 100 more waiting to emerge any day now. I really want to keep them well fed so they’ll grow rapidly (and to Great Size, I hope), which means I’m feeding them every other day. This has been a clumsy process in which I put a few hundred wingless flies in a wide mouth cup, then cover it with a lid, and go down a line of spider vials using a paint brush to flick a few individuals into the loving arms of my babies. This is messy and awkward, because as soon as I open the lid to flick out a couple of flies, they all swarm to escape.

It takes 45 minutes to an hour to feed everyone, and it’s sloppy and a fair number of flies escape…to die, because there’s nothing for them to eat in the lab, and there are also escaped spiders that are thriving on their futile attempts to get away.

My fly shaker is simple: a plastic water bottle with a very small, fly-sized hole drilled in the top. I tape over the hole, use a funnel to dump a lot of flies into the bottle, and then open up all the spider containers. The spiders are well-behaved and will quietly rest in their web. Then I remove the tape from the fly shaker, invert it, and tap it once on each vial. Tap-tap-tap-tap-tap-etc. I did the whole bunch in less than 5 minutes! Then I was free to sit back and watch the gladiatorial spectacle as my spiderlings went into a frenzy.

I’ve been inefficient and working too hard. Now I can grow this spider army far more easily.


  1. John Morales says

    Patent it. Maybe.

    (You’re gonna be a Mad Scientist, why not $profit$ from it, too)

  2. wzrd1 says

    Well, one of the most difficult logistical challenges is ensuring that all of the troops are well fed.

  3. Ed Peters says

    I used to get crickets from the pet store for my sister’s tarantula.
    Where do you get wingless flies?

  4. birgerjohansson says

    Boris Johnson will resign as prime minister later today.
    (Fireworks, balloons, crowds dancing in the streets)

  5. birgerjohansson says

    I misspoke.
    He is resigning as party chair but wants to remain PM until a successor is chosen.
    Fat chance, that process could take more than a month. No way the tory MPs want to be associated with him any longer.
    So he will remain in No. 10 until the MPs decide to throw him out in favor of another caretaker prime minister that in turn will step down after a successor party leader has been chosen.

  6. imaginggeek says

    I’d love to see a video of it “raining flies” and the spiders joyous response!

  7. malleefowl says

    When I was studying fly genetics we used CO2 to anaesthetize them. I would suggest making up a small CO2 generator with a tube as outlet. Dump the flies into a clean bottle and then stick the CO2 tube into the fly tube until all anaesthetized. They should stay that way for several minutes. Reapply if necessary. Much easier than chasing lively flies.