Even maggots sleep:
I am still working with fruit flies, the same colony I published about some three years ago.  I recently decided I need to know whether maggots sleep.   Adult fruit flies do, pupae don’t move anyway, and until somebody does an electroencephalogram on one, we won’t know about them.  The other night I made my way to the lab in the wee small hours.  I entered the lab as silently as I could manage in the total darkness.  My brain wasn’t working its best, and I made a bit of a scuffle.  I tried to pick up a culture bottle that would have a lot of larvae. 

I sat in the chair in front of the dissecting scope, holding the bottle as still as I could manage.  I wondered what could be a more wretched sight than a startle maggot.  I reached out my arms.  There was no microscope in front of me.  There wasn’t even a table.  After a bit of judicious groping I found the instrument and placed the bottle on the stage.  I groped around and found the knob that raises and lowers the scope and set it at the top of its travel; that is just about right for getting the flies on the top surface into focus – not quite but close enough.  Then there was a second knob, or actually a third and fourth, since the knobs come in pairs.  Now what could it be for?  My sleep addled brain did not answer.  I stealthily worked the adjustment without getting a clue.  There was a bit of a detent, so I left it there and switched on the light.

I could see nothing but a blur; the other adjustment was the focus.  So I got her focused and peered down.  I doubt what my eyes reported.  There were only a few flies.  I had forgotten that the flies had been transferred in just the day before.  What I seemed to see was the flies bunched together in the middle of the field staring up into the light in stark terror.  Generally flies act cool.  They affect an air of sans souci.  All right, I know you can’t read a fly’s mind nor its facial expression.  They are so indifferent to circumstances one tends to think of them as not being fully alive; it’s as if they were giant molecules.  On the other hand I have seen females rubbing themselves down with the serious air and indifference to time of a woman putting on makeup. 

Well these flies were about as calm as you or I would be had our bed been picked up in the night, moved through utter darkness and suddenly had a ring of searchlights open up on us.  Maybe I’ll try it again some time and see if it’s reproducible.

I doused the light, hoping I had not disturbed the other flies in the lab.  I made a second guess as to which bottle might contain maggots.  So I went and fetched that bottle and placed it on the darkened stage, then flipped on the lights again.  There were all the flies and maggots galumphing around on the glass at flank speed.  Usually the maggots are wallowing in the culture medium and the flies are strolling about on the glass in apparent ennui. 

So yes, they do climb up out of their medium at night.  It would take much to persuade me that they are not asleep.  By much, I mean getting up at three in the morning again.

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