THE MEDFLY

The living terror of Southern California is the Mediterranean fruit fly, unlovingly known to the locals as the Medfly. The Medfly is a vicious and unstoppable destroyer of all the wonderful things that grow on fruit trees in this part of the world. These cute and colorful little fellows and gals are slated for execution by the State. I for one find it intolerable that all those slimy snail darters infesting saline pools in the western deserts get daily massages courtesy of government grant recipients. An endangered species like the Medfly, which at some future date may hold the secret to the cure of cancer or human immortality, is being hunted into extinction.

The authorities detect the presence of the Medfly by setting out thousands of cardboard containers lined with a powerful adhesive and containing a dastardly synthetic chemical sex pheromone lure, Trimedlure. No citrus-partying male Medfly can resist this chemical siren song. Periodic inspection of the traps discloses the presence of cruising original gansta diptera, and then everybody panics and the politicians spend money after taking their cut of the action.

In the old days sex education taught the citizenry where babies came from. It was intuitively obvious that if you could remove 100% of the males from a breeding population, short of growing a set of male equipment or working out the complexities of parthenogenesis in a single generation, the females would be hard-pressed to invent a way to fertilize their eggs and make babies. People who drive cars with holy mackerels pasted on the rear bumper condemn this sort of dirty talk, much preferring to air drop thousands of gallons of poison upon vast urban housing tracts and take a cut of the action as their commission. Adding poison to the male traps lacks campaign contributions. Thus night spraying of malathion has come to Southern California.

Malathion has about the same oral toxicity as aspirin for human beings, though it will do interesting things to your immune system after the warranty expires. Helicopters tank up with a rich mixture of malathion and corn syrup and nebulize massive clouds of the stuff at 500 feet, the sticky clouds descending to kill the occasional Medfly and deposit upon every square inch below a singularly corrosive particulate mist. Corn syrup is one of those mystery substances that eats through otherwise invulnerable car paint. Nature, ignoring the cult of the holy mackerel, does every now and then spike the pot with the rare breeding pair of Medflies that are invulnerable to malathion. Indeed, all of California is infested with Medflies who only survive through massive infusions of thiophosphoryl-containing nutrients that do not exist in the environment except as malathion. Purveyors of the holy mackerel do not believe in evolution, either.

Imagine one evening in Oxnard, CA as the Medfly 29 gang gather in Hortense Poswilly's kumquat tree after dark, spasming in the throes of malathion addiction:

"Oooooh, I need it, I need it bad. Uck, uck, uck, uck. I need some malathion."

"Shut up Harvey, we are all going cold dragonfly. Sid, you drew the short aphid. Fly into that cardboard thing that smells like Carmellita's thorax and set off the alarm. We need a fix."

Sid was found the next morning and the helicopters flew at dusk. The kumquat tree was one giant Mediterranean cluster jam.

"Party hardy everybody!!! Yeah! Sex and fruit and malathion! Hey Harvey, buzz on over to that Cadillac and bring back some boo. Where is Carmellita and her three thousand sisters? It doesn't get any better than this!"

Hard working biologists at universities across this great nation have been spending their government grants day and night, assiduously avoiding making any progress in the Medfly problem until grant renewal time draws near and they need a publication. Meanwhile Arthur Poswilly, fond of kumquats and tired of Medflies, has come up with an insecticide gel that can be applied to the tops of telephone poles and power lines far away from people and their possessions, loaded with sex attractant pheromone and insect death. It works like a charm.

All Arthur need do is file a hundred twenty five thousand pages of government mandated environmental impact statements and EPA disclosures, buy a quarter billion dollars in liability insurance, and find a factory in Thailand to manufacture the stuff away from the EPA, OSHA, NIOSH, the War on Drugs, Homeland Severity...

Meanwhile, the helicopters spray on. Holy mackerel.

(Thanks and apologies are tendered to Dr. Yoram Rossler for correcting biological absurdities in the original essay, and tolerating the ones naughtily remaining.)


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