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Zapping Fruit Flies!

April 6th, 2016

In a recent study, scientists found that fruit fly wings are sensitive to electrical fields. Researchers placed fruit flies in plastic housing with different electrical fields placed around the container and studied their behavior. The flies avoided the areas with electrical charge. But this only holds true for the flies with wings. Flies without wings did not seem effected at all by the different electrical fields. Flies with smaller wings were less effected by more electrical charge than flies with larger wings. The scientists concluded that the flies’ wings are used to detect and feel electrical fields.

Scientists believe that this discovery could benefit the control of pests with the use of electrical fields. One idea researchers are playing with is creating mesh that generates static electric fields, which could be attached to windows, and prevent flies and maybe even mosquitos from entering while still allowing airflow. This study also raises the question of how electrical fields affect other winged insect such as bees. Scientists worry that power lines would affect these pollinating insects in a harmful manner.

What do you think of the possible pest control options this study could create?

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