Fruit Fly Freezing Update

Mobile fruit fly incubation lab? Let’s open it up and find out.

Last week I started a simple experiment for the purpose of exploring whether or not freezing can effectively kill fruit flies (adults, larvae and eggs) – See “Does Freezing Kill Fruit Flies?” if you missed the post.

After forgetting about the scraps in my freezer for a couple more days than intended (haha), I removed them earlier this week, and proceeded to give some thought to how I wanted to let them sit. Given the fact that, as mentioned, we’ve had some fruit flies buzzing about in the house as of late, I certainly didn’t just want to open up the bag and leave it to sit on the counter (not sure my wife would have been too thrilled about that option anyway! lol).

As you can see in the picture above, I ended up settling on the idea of “sealing” my open bag inside a cardboard box. While I did make an effort to tape up the obvious gaps/openings, I knew the box would still “breathe” quite well. Once taped up, I simply left the box to sit down in my basement for a few days (certainly more than enough time to allow for the hatching of viable fruit fly eggs).

I decided to check on everything today, and found that…drum roll please…not a creature was stirring (ended up feeling pretty guilty seeing all the little lifeless springtails I inadvertently killed off 🙁 ). No fruit flies flying out or signs of any active larvae in the waste materials. The microbes have done just fine though! There seems to be plenty of new growth in that department.

So, the initial semi-conclusion here is that it looks promising that freezing can indeed kill off fruit flies. Now it’s time to REALLY convince myself!

I’m going to grow an actual thriving fruit fly culture (basically taken care of already thanks to me forgetting a bag of food scraps out on my deck! haha), and will put more material into a larger bag which, once again, will get tossed into the freezer. This time I will likely shorten the freezing time and lengthen the post-freezer sitting time, just to make sure I’m covering the bases here!

I’ll keep everyone posted!

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    • Kator
    • September 17, 2010

    Hey .. great news Bentley! Even better that you intend to narrow down time frames and repeat the experiment. Good luck!

    • Ted
    • September 17, 2010

    I have a question.
    OK, the little buggers are not present on the frozen scraps. Now, if there was a few hanging on a pipe down the basement and you placed the scraps in the basement until feeding time. Can those hanging on the pipe fly down, deposite eggs on the thawed scraps and start the coloney over again?

    • larry duke
    • September 17, 2010

    Okay Bentley! Sounds like you are well on the quest to become a fruitfly owner.If you get to where you want to try another twist,add this one.I gave up,because it seems if you want fruit flies,they will disappear.I wanted to vacuum enough flies up in a shop vac into a stocking.Then make a bug liquid to produce what a old school farmer calls bug juice.In theory farmers use this to deter the species that invades thier crop.Break out a shop vac and fruitflies hide.Will the juice work? That is the question! If it did,a little sprits and fruitfly-B-gone!

  1. I freeze all my food scraps for a few days prior to putting into my indoor bins. It will be interesting reading your conclusion from this one. BTW, I have a really cool (what I call the Worm mansion) indoor system I will share some pics with you sometime. Homemade and huge! Love the site.

  2. That’s great news about freeezing the asses off fruit flies,
    but how did you confirm that the microbial population was
    still active and thriving?

    • Bentley
    • October 19, 2010

    JKLIVIN – would love to see pictures of the “mansion”!! lol
    KEVIN – Interesting question. I did not confirm that, but the way I see it, even if the freezing DID completely wipe out the population of microbes (i.e. none were able to go into a resting stage quickly enough), I have little doubt that the population would grow very quickly again once added to a worm bin. Also, the soft food material (and all those yummy microbe carcasses – haha) would likely make for a pretty inviting vermi-meal anyway!

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