Fly Hunt: Chapel Hill to Athens


It was really rewarding to find the mushroom-feeding drosophila actually feeding on mushrooms! I felt a sense of discovery that I didn’t feel so much when collecting at the baits. After looking at these flies under the scope, I realized that (not surprisingly) there were a bunch of flies that I’d not seen before. They all looked the same at first glance, but after staring at them for hours, I realized that I probably had 3 different species. Corbin wasn’t too familiar with these (and he was super-busy!) so I did my best to key them out, but after about 5 hours, I gave up. I was supposed to be on the road to Athens by noon, and it was after 3pm when I decided to just keep a voucher specimen for each of the groups I’d made and dissect the rest. My plan is to use PCR to amplify some marker gene in the fly gut tissue to confirm which species of fly the gut came from anyway. So, hopefully that works out.

Anyway, the point of all that is that I didn’t get on the road to Athens (6 hours away) until about 6pm on Thursday! My next host, Daniel Promislow was kind enough to let me show up at his house late (2am!) Since we should have been putting out traps while I was on the road, I just decided to be a day behind schedule. So, on Friday, Daniel and I picked up some over-ripe fruit at the Food Bank, put out some traps at the botanical gardens, and then went to meet his friend for a drink at the local wine bar. That was fun. We each got the same flight of reds and did that thing that oenophiles do, with the “I smell…” and “it tastes like…” and “the finish is…” and “do you get?…” Later, we went to a bar/club called the Melting Pot where they were showing a Charlie Chaplin film with a live band doing the score. More fun! Then, we stuck around for the Dromedary Quartet until about midnight. I loved this group! I was totally exhausted after getting about 4 hours of sleep the night before and 2 hours of sleep the night before that, but I kept thinking, “OK, one more song, then we’ll go.” But, I stayed for the whole show!

I should interject here, that the morning after I arrived in Athens, I went out to my car to get my purse and realized that it was not there. I last remember having my purse when I left the bar, Tyler’s Taproom, – fun place, by the way! – on my last night in Durham but I thought that I’d left it in my car, and I’d been assuming all day that it was somewhere in my car. But, it wasn’t. Fortunately, my cell phone, my ATM card, my digital camera, and $200 in cash were all in my pockets! The cable that connects my camera to my computer was in my purse, though, so I won’t be posting any more pictures until I get a new one. Probably tomorrow…

ANYWAY, Daniel and I set out to collect early Saturday morning – first we went to Roots Farm where we found a decent number/variety of flies. Then, we went back to the botanical gardens to collect our traps. Then, we went back to the lab where Daniel helped me sort the flies. By this time, I was out of vials of sterile, colored food, so Daniel gave me vials and “agar” and everything else I needed to make new vials. We sorted the flies into empty vials so that later, once my sterile food vials had solidified, I could transfer them. Then, I hit the road.

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