Social Question

ETpro's avatar

Do fruit flies have feelings [see details]?

Asked by ETpro (34550points) March 17th, 2012

This article in The New York Times suggests they do. It seems young male fruit flies, if rebuffed time after time by attractive female fruit flies, will turn to drink to drown their sorrows. Yep, they self medicate on fermented fruit.

So, can we guys get a little sympathy? If rejection hurts a tiny fruit fly brain that much, just imagine the pain it causes in us human males. Fruit flies have brains with about 100,000 neurons. We humans have 85,000,000,000 neurons. So have a heart. Save us from drink. OK?

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40 Answers

filmfann's avatar

In the words of Groucho Marx:

Time Flies Like An Arrow. Fruit Flies Like A Banana.

Coloma's avatar

Poor fruit flies turning to drink to salve their bruised little fruit fly egos.
Yes, I think everything has feelings, just because we are not experiencing the pain of a rejected fruit fly doesn’t mean they don’t feel pain. Man has always been quick to proclaim his infinite wisdom about other creatures, when, in reality, how the hell could we ever truly know how anything else feels if we are not subject to being in their body and mind.

Sunny2's avatar

O dear. I can see the signs now. SAVE THE FRUIT FLY Picketers around the labs where they use them in experiments. Bleeding hearts sitting in fruit trees to defend the fruit flies.

Berserker's avatar

Fuck fruit flies, I hate those things. Not related, but if anyone ever has a fruit fly infestation, PM me and I’ll give you instructions on how to get rid of them 100%. Serious.
Interesting article.

filmfann's avatar

@Symbeline This string is about the feelings of fruit flies, and you start off by saying fuck them?
Where is your empathy, child?

flutherother's avatar

If you swat them fast they don’t feel a thing.

Ela's avatar

I agree with @flutherother. Just swat them fast. Don’t catch them, shake them in your fist to knock them out so you can then tear off their wings or tie a hair around them (aka put them on a leash) so humiliating for them : (

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

It would be difficult to empirically access what behaviours would demonstrate emotions in fruit flies. There would almost always be simpler explanations for the observed behaviours that don’t require any reference to internal emotional states.

janbb's avatar

Fruit fly don’t bother me, fruit fly don’t bother me,
Fruit fly don’t bother me,
‘Cause I belong to somebody.

Trillian's avatar

Instead of drowning their sorrows they should just drown themselves. Fuck a bunch of fruit flies. May they all crash and burn.
Flies in the buttermilk, fruit fly fruit. Flies in the buttermilk, fruit fly fruit. Flies in the buttermilk, fruit fly fruit, skip to ma’ lou my darlin’.

janbb's avatar

Pickin’ up fruit flies, put ‘em in my pocket,
Pickin’ up fruit flies, put ‘em in my pocket…...

Trillian's avatar

He died and the jury wondered why…. the verdict was, the fruit tail fly!

janbb's avatar

I’m a little fruit fly, short and stout…

ratboy's avatar

“Dr. Heilig, who was not involved in the research, said the findings also supported new approaches to treating alcohol dependence.”

I’m seeking a sexual surrogate to help me with my alcohol dependence, but those who hang out at the bar don’t accept health insurance.

janbb's avatar

Maybe fruit flies that are disappointed in love should switch teams?

Trillian's avatar

The F-R-U-I-T, yes that’s the fly for me.
(‘night @janbb)

linguaphile's avatar

Wow. I’m trying to understand where the researchers’ interest in the emotional health of fruit flies came from… How in the world did they convince anyone to fund this research?

But good point… if tiny fruit flies feelings get hurt, we should cut humans a bit of slack.

still scratching head over who would research fruit flies…

Berserker's avatar

@filmfann That’s right. Fuck fruit flies. May Baphomet have them. And I’ve no empathy.

I wonder if the depressed fruit flies actually get drunk, or altered in some way or another. Nature is odd. Fruit flies are attracted to certain things and places in order to feed and lay eggs, and it wouldn’t be in their evolutionary disposition to fuck themselves up in any way. Then again look at people, maybe if Darwin is right, sometimes there’s just too many fruit flies.

It’s just bizarre. Fruit flies have probably existed for thousands of years…on the other hand, so has alcohol, so it’s not like I can say this is some new thing to them. Ho hum. And I guess the rejected fruit flies getting drunk and then dying have no part in any hindrance to the maintaining of the fruit fly world, since they were rejected by females who already got some, anyways.

Only138's avatar

Yeah, fuck fruit flies. Little bastards anyways.

ETpro's avatar

@filmfann You remember Croucho? His show was must-view television in our household. And about fruit flies, “A child of five could understand this. Fetch me a child of five.”

@Coloma Perhaps we need an empath like Counselor Deanna Troi to help Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the rest of us tap into the seething well of fruit-fly emotions.

@Sunny2 Is that what that nutty guy in my banana tree is up to? And here I thought he was just a lousy peeping tom.

@Symbeline & @Only138 Really? Are you endowed in such a way that’s even possible?

@filmfann Maybe @Symbeline is looking for fruit flies that are masochistic.

@flutherother How can we be sure of that in the absence of research proving it? They have tried interviews with fruit flies that have had it happen, but every single one refused to comment.

@EnchantingEla The masochistic ones really get aroused when you parade them around on a leash. This just adds to their frustratin, driving them to drink even heavier.

Berserker's avatar

@ETpro What are you talking about, like, that I want to have sex with fruit flies? The hell you on, man? I mean to hell with them! Hate those things. I wouldn’t fuck em, even if that were possible.

ETpro's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence Clearly more work is needed on this vital topic. Shall we collaborate on a grant proposal? :-)

@janbb But do they speak English?

@Trillian Ha! Poor flightless fruit fly, couldn’t get any tail. What an inside joke. :-)

@ratboy Ha! Life can be so unfair. It’s enough to drive a man (or fruit fly) to drink.

@janbb If only we could get them some counselling—get them to think things through. Surely they could become bi, at a minimum.

@linguaphile On a serious note, there is a great deal to be learned about human mental processes from the study of the fruit fly. while our brains contain 850,000 times as many neurons as a fruit fly brain; both contain neural networks arranged in a very similar way and apparently dedicated to a similar function. In the fruit fly, neuroscientists can study these networks without the risk of killing a human research subject.

@Symbeline Baphomet commanding a legion of drunken, lusting fruit flies. Now there is a truly disturbing thought.

Berserker's avatar

One that might piss Beelzebub off! XD

Beelzebub; Yo bitch, where mah frootflies at?

Baphomet; Shut up, boy.

Beelzebub; Damn it, man.

ETpro's avatar

@Symbeline And there we have the redeeming value of fruit flies. With them, Baphomet can drive Beelzebub crazy.

Berserker's avatar

Fruit flies could drive Nyarlathotep crazy…

janbb's avatar

What fools these fruit flies be!

Trillian's avatar

And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout;
But there is no joy in Mudville – mighty fruit fly has struck out.
(And apparently gone off to drown his sorrows. Can I get a woot woot?)
(With apologies to Ernest Thayer!)

janbb's avatar

woot! woot!

If fruit fly be the food of love, play on!

flutherother's avatar

How many fruit flies does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Just two but I don’t know how they got in there.

PhiNotPi's avatar

Fruit flies are also easy to genetically modify.

mattbrowne's avatar

It seems that some of the young male fruit flies will have to be treated with anti-depressants.

janbb's avatar

tiny, tiny doses of Prozac?

linguaphile's avatar

If fruit flies, those tiny things with a few synapses, have feelings, then it would be interesting to see what else also has feelings.

janbb's avatar

Penguins do!

ETpro's avatar

I know for a fact the chambered nautiluses and in face all cephalopod have feelings.

Bill1939's avatar

The term ‘feeling’ is a bit fuzzy. It could suggest that consciousness exists in fruit flies, something I doubt is true. It is not surprising that their brains contain mechanisms/functions that reinforce behaviors that maintain the individual and/or the propagation of the species. When such chemical responses are not being elicited by behaviors that usually accompany them, a behavior that bypasses the more complex link between action and reward (which has been thwarted), yet provides a chemical response similar to the reinforcing chemical, would be frequently repeated.

ETpro's avatar

@Bill1939 Hey, welcome to Fluther.

I’d like to get excited and feel superior based on what you posted. Unfortunately, seems the same is true of humans. :-)

Bill1939's avatar

I would say that the only reason to consider humans superior to other animals is that the development of our frontal lobes enables us to remember the past in exquisite detail and envision a future that potentially can be realized through actions we plan. Unfortunately, too few seem willing to think things through before acting, with undesirable consequences that could have been predicted.

ETpro's avatar

@Bill1939 Amen, to that.

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