Death to Drosophila

Morning. Another day on Westray and time to tip the woodlice out of my slippers, have some Scots porridge for breakfast and give my bicycle tyres a firm squeeze. All is right with the world.

I’m proud of my daughter. She’s thirteen and knows the scientific name for the fruit fly. That’s good because the kitchen appears to have far too many of them for comfort. I go to pack my emergency banana and there’s a fruit fly cloud. It’s time for action. Shall I use a copy of The Orcadian or Orkney Today as my weapon of choice? I decide on Orkney Today for no reason – they’re both the same – and set to work. Fifty flies later and they’re thinner on the ground, or rather, thinner in the air. My score even includes a straight run of twelve successive successful kills. Forehand, backhand and smash, with a jump, with feet planted, even two at once. I’m getting casual with it now. I use the Telegraph Business supplement to reach the ones on top of the cupboard. The problem, though is that you can never eradicate them. They’re like rabbits on Westray – there’s always a pregnant one left down the burrow somewhere.

The reason my daughter knows the scientific name for fruit fly is that they are one of the most intensively studied organisms on earth – largely because they are so successful at breeding and have a short lifecycle. Perfect for studying genetics. The problem I now have, is that only those that have excellent avoidance behaviours have survived the cull and I’ve been responsible for selecting their progeny’s improved avoidance techniques. They will be back to exact their revenge. I’ll be ready and waiting for them; with my copy of The Orcadian.

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