Just kidding, we don’t make beer from fruit flies! Many people do find it interesting that the food medium we grow them on contains many of same ingredients as beer though.
In the lab, we have perfected a fly food recipe that contains delicious things, such as malt, brewers yeast, soy flour, molasses and agar. Our resident “brewmaster,” adds everything to an industrial soup kettle at precise times and temperatures to ensure we get a consistent, nutritious batch every time.
No, the food does not ferment, and the flies do not get drunk. The agar works like jello to solidify the mixture as it cools so the flies do not drown in it. The molasses gives it a sweet smell to attract the flies to it for feeding, reproduce and lay eggs. Fruit flies like sweet things after all. Just ask that overripe banana you forgot about on your kitchen counter.
We pour the food into clear plastic containers, such as bottles or vials, then plugged with foam or cotton balls. The image above is a batch of food that we were plugging to ship over to Kennedy. We call the foam plugs “flugs” for short. This allows the flies to breath while remaining contained. So cheers to the flies! Enjoy your sweet, malty goodness. I raise my beer to you.
Here are a couple of images of food that went bad during shipment and melted. These were disposed of and not used for human or fly consumption.
Here I am in the lab, happy to finish a long day taking care of the flies.