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  • Writer's pictureKaun Lab

How do I stop the flies from climbing?

Flies demonstrate negative geotaxis, an innate escape response during which flies ascend the walls of whatever chamber they are in. In other words, flies like climbing upwards. This can be a problem when you are tracking flies behaving in an arena because they like to climb up the sides, and this can cause software tracking errors because it changes the shape of the fly. They also like to climb on the ceiling of the arena, and this can result in the software incorrectly tracking the flies, because it will classify one fly in close proximity to another fly as touching, but if one fly is on the ceiling and one on the floor, the flies likely aren’t actually touching. 

So how do you prevent flies from climbing up the walls and on the roof of the behavior arena? You make it slippery. We use a paintable teflon called Fluon for the sides of chambers and a clear siliconizing reagent called Sigmacote for the ceiling (since we need to see through this for tracking) 

Sometimes when you have an open roof chamber and you don’t want the flies to fly, you might need to clip their wings. But then you have to wonder if clipping their wings affects their behavior. Although I couldn’t find any rigorous studies looking at whether clipping wings affects fly behavior, my recommendation is to try not to damage the fly, and use an arena where clipping the wings isn’t necessary.

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