Today I’ll be discussing the art of dissecting flies for the preparation to conduct electrophysiology. This is quite a fiddly process and it is recommended that coffee isn’t consumed prior to the preparation.
Before the preparation begins, the flies need to be hatched. This process takes approximately 2 weeks. In the first week, maggots are placed sealed in a small container and deprived of light. Once the maggots are black, they are taken out (start of week 2) and exposed to light with the addition of food and water in the container.
Once the flies have hatched the preparation can begin. To start off, a fly has to be isolated from the container. It is not necessary to wear gloves for this process; However, I have not gotten used to putting my hand into a box packed with buzzing flies.
The next step is to isolate the fly into a smaller cylindrical container. This step is very fiddly as most flies will put up a fight to enter the tube.
Whilst trying to get this particular fly into the tube (who put up a great fight), the little bug escaped. This could only be fixed with the use of a fly-trapper (AKA butterfly net). After several minutes of fly-hunting, I finally caught the fly and placed her into the tube.
Okay, I lied. It took me a lot longer to catch it (ask Marissa). However, once it was finally in the tube, it was ready to be prepared and dissected!
The fly is then waxed onto a small stand. This process is also fairly fiddly as the fly moves around as if it is dancing. Once it is finally in the correct position, wax is applied to the back with the head facing outwards, in line with the stand. The head is pushed outwards and nose faced towards the ground in order to expose the the back of the head. The previous step has to be done cautiously to ensure the head of the poor fly is not snapped off!
The fly is now ready for dissection. This will be discussed in “Fiddly Flies Part 2” coming soon!