Flies and a Very Good Pinot

House Fly Drenched in Water VaporI like to drink while I cook—generally a nice pinot noir like the 2011 Hahn Winery. But I’m not a big drinker, so I often end up leaving half a glass of wine undrank. Most of the time, this results in one or more house flies dead in the wine the next day. I’ve thought about this a lot and I have a hypothesis that I plan to test next summer when the flies come back.

According to Fruit Fly Traps (which deals with fruit flies, but I doubt it matters), flies like liquids like vinegar, apple cider, orange juice, and wine. Thus they land to drink it and drown because they are stupid. I am skeptical.

I think that flies are significantly less likely to die in orange juice than in wine. The alcohol in wine vaporizes at a significant rate. I think that while drinking the wine, the flies pass out from lack of oxygen and thus drown.

This is pure speculation. If anyone knows anything about this important scientific question, please let me know. Otherwise, when the flies return I will present my results.


The picture above is from the Daily Mail, “This close-up picture shows a house fly drenched in water vapour, which look like large globules of water under the intense magnification.” It is from an article A Little Too Close For Comfort? It has a number of really great close-up pictures of insects.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

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