5/5/2021: Ayy lmaos at Roach Crossing
I may come across as pretty straight edge in a lot of my site work, but the truth is in person around a lot of other invertebrate people things tend to get pretty ridiculous. During the first Arizona trip back in 2016, I recall one of my first nights in the mountains (though for some reason it’s the only location I can’t recall the name of). I had gone off for one reason or another and found a nice spot on a hillside to sit and stargaze, something I’d never really gotten to do growing up in the heart of suburbia in southeast Michigan. I was spooked a few minutes later by trip buddy Satchell Watts-Kerr, who, in his very endearing southern voice through the crisp silence of the night, asked only: “See any Ayy LMAOs?” For those who aren’t familiar, this link will explain all that you need to know. That moment has stuck with me ever since and I’ve always had the itch to name a strain of some invertebrate to commemorate it.
The moment has finally come! Fall 2020 to Winter 2021 has been the season of the fruit fly and I’ve been working on perfecting some consistent utility strains as most fruit fly vendor stock is absolutely abhorrent. White eyes contaminated with wild types, feeble and infertile body color mutations, or just poor quality cultures in general have been my general experience for years. I’ve put a lot of time into isolating and selecting stock and have two strains nearly ready for release, the most exciting of which is, of course, “Ayy LMAO”.
It took me about seven months to create these painstakingly bred, black-bodied, white-eyed, flightless Drosophila melanogaster, and it has been very tricky getting the desired combination of traits from the original lines. The tiny, stunted wing mutation on the line used for the black body mutation does not “combine” with the wingless mutation, so crossing the two strains creates flying phenotypes initially and it can be very difficult to sort out the tiniest stunted wings from the true wingless when selecting into multiple generations. Then there’s the problem of selecting desirable wingless individuals from a culture without getting a hundred flying fruit flies everywhere… Thinking back I’m truly thankful past Kyle dealt with all that mess!
So what are the pros of these freaky little guys? Conceptually, the large, white eyes contrasting on the black body will make them easier to see for small predators. Though red eyes on black bodies could have the same effect, many small predators from spiders to frogs most likely lack color vision, but two innately contrasting colors like black and white should be more visible than red on black (which probably appears as grayish on black, not as contrasting). This contrast coupled with their aimless walking due to very poor eyesight (but not blindness) and slight neurological issues makes them extremely easy pickings for predators.
I will be doing some trials in the future once the line is completely proved out the way I’d like it to see if these assertions are true. If “Ayy LMAO”s are more easily consumed by predators, they could open some doors for those keeping tiny predators from spiders to toads to dart frogs.
Without further ado, behold the mighty “Ayy LMAO”!