I’m planning a trip this summer that I’ve dubbed the “Fly Hunt.” Really, I’m going to NESCent to take a 10-day course on Phyloinformatics. I figure if I have to go from the west coast to the east coast and back, that I should drive. I’m aware (only because I’m often told) that this is an unusual response to a need to travel 6000 miles, but I feel lucky to have the opportunity. I’m going to collect flies (Drosophila) along the way.
So, I’m looking for people along the way who will take me on a local collecting trip. I don’t really know one species of fly from another, and if not an orchard, winery, or fruit stand, I don’t know where to find them. So, I’ll need help. Also, I have a portable dissecting microscope, and I hope to have every other necessary item with me in the field, but it’ll be nice to have a fly lab that I can make use of for the day.
Yesterday, I met with Michael Turelli who was so incredibly helpful in helping me find drosopholists who can help me in the field. I have a good list of names, and I will be dropping his name when I’m asking these folks for help. I amazed at how few people know anything about the natural history of the fruit fly. It seems to me that if you want to study insect ecology, well, you might as well study the ecology of the insect about which we know more than any other! I don’t think they’re completely intractable as field subjects, they are cosmopolitan, and they exhibit niche specialization that puts finches and cichlids to shame. Oh well, it’s not like I’m going to trade in the pipette and computer for a Westy, a good net, and a notepad anytime soon. . . Probably not, anyway.