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Encyclopedia of Experiments

Fly Aspirator Tube: A Simple Tool to Transfer Live Drosophila


This video describes one method to build a fly aspirator, which can be used to transfer insects between enclosures without anesthesia. The aspirator in the example protocol was prepared for an experiment to quantify individual grooming behaviors


This protocol is an excerpt from Barradale et al., Quantification of Drosophila Grooming Behavior, J. Vis. Exp. (2017).

  1. Prepare an aspirator for moving live Drosophila from a culture vial to the grooming chamber. Aspirators allow transfer of conscious animals to the behavioral chambers to ensure that anesthesia does not affect subsequent behavioral observation.
    1. Using scissors cut 1.5 feet of tygon tubing ID 1/8", OD 1/4". Cut at least 1 inch off of the tip of a 1 mL disposable micropipette tip. Hold a 1 cm square piece of mesh (opening 0.196 inch) over the cut tip.
      NOTE: Most 1mL tips have a gradation line where the tip sits in the package box, typically cut to that line.
    2. Snugly place a fresh 1 mL micropipette tip over the mesh/cut tip. Observe the mesh form a tight barrier between the two tips. The inside of the new tip creates a holding chamber for flies.
    3. Cut the extreme tip of the new micropipette tip to widen the opening enough to allow passage of a single fly. The hole will roughly match the opening of the grooming chamber (approximately 1.5-2 mm in diameter).
    4. Snugly fit the nested tips onto the end of the tygon tubing. Push the tips into the tube to ensure a tight fit to allow for vacuum pressure.
    5. On the other end of the tubing, cut the tip of a 200 μL micropipette tip and fit the narrow cut end into the tubing. This is the "mouth" side of the aspirator.

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Name Company Catalog Number Comments
High-Flex Tygon PVC Clear Tubing McMaster-Carr 5229K54 ID 1/8", OD 1/4", used with micropipettor tips and mesh to construct mouth aspirators
Micropipette tips (1 mL and 200 μL) Genesee Scientific 24-165, 24-150R
Nylon Mesh Screen, 2 x 2.6" McMaster-Carr 9318T44 Used to construct grooming chamber and mouth aspirators


Fly Aspirator Tube: A Simple Tool to Transfer Live <em>Drosophila</em>
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Source: Barradale, F., et al. Quantification of Drosophila Grooming Behavior. J. Vis. Exp. (2017).

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