The next time it was mentioned was in the local edition of Lancaster on Saturday, June 20th, 1987, on page two: „Grandma annoyed by Flies”, was the sensational headline in a small notice, even decorated by a photo. The notice said that nut just Granny Gnat in Mountville is presently annoyed by much too large fruit flies, but the whole region along the river and up to Lancaster.
I got a confirmation for this case by a friend in the archive of the Army, where some assorted files of the Harrisburg region are stored since 1980. For a bottle of Kentucky Bourbon my friend started during his leisure time to search the old files of the „Marie-Curie-Barracks” near Harrisburg. And he had success too: Filed under Thursday, June 18th, 1987, in the records of the medical and veterinary department, was the remark we looked for: Due to a plague of giant fruit flies within the kitchen buildings chemicals had to be used to get rid of them.
Monday edition of the „Susquehanna-Sentinel,” local issue Havre de Grace, July 13th, 1987, page three: “Flies from Valley Green down to the Bay.” The report was pretty brief: One week ago around the town of Valley Green an invasion of huge fruit flies had begun, which now occupies the lands north of Baltimore.
So, why not use the military connections for a research once again: In the records of the Navy Base Perryville, like in the Curie Barracks, the use of chemicals against flies in the kitchen departments is noted. Date: July 10th. And a friend from the Air Force, for another bottle of Bourbon, found a similar note at the „Juri-Gagarin-Airbase” in Plumpton Park. Date here: July 8th.
Now to the last report in the „Susquehanna-Sentinel.” Again nearly the same content as in the edition from Havre de Garce, but this time the issue of Abingdon and the flies spread down the bay. Date of publication: Saturday, July 25th. And another confirmation of chemicals in the kitchens of barracks at Clayton on July 22nd.
What to think about all these reports? A request at Professor Dr. Hummer at CUNT (Cambridge-University-Nuclear-Team) regarding the possibilities of mutations of Drosophila melanogaster brought an surprising, but basically not astonishing answer: „What a question,” he said at the telephone, “the nuclear power plant on Three Mile Island, after the incident on 1979, could of course be responsible for mutations.”
His tip: an interview with one of the most acclaimed specialists on the field of research on mutations caused by radio activity, Dr. Thomas Error-Fliege of the famous Atlanta-Radioactive-Survey-Examiners (ARSE) team.
No sooner said than done and called. After three days finally I made it to get the leading authority to the phone. Mutation by radioactive leakage? His answer: „Basically possible.” But why the spreading to the South? T. Error-Fliege laughs: „Did you check the weather report in the newspapers?” No, crap.
So back in the archives of the „Susquehanna-Sentinel”, and right: In the beginning winds from the North, carrying the flies from Harrisburg down to the bay. Then the wind came from the East and carried the slow flying flies, the giant ones even flying slower, towards Baltimore. Now a sudden change of the weather. The wind became strong and turned towards North. The end for the giant fruit flies, which were blown all down over the Bay and into the Atlantic Ocean.
But what happened to the specimens, collected by the students of the Mendel-High School in York haven, which were sent to the Hargard College? A view into the dusty files of the zoological institute gives the answer to the question: „Examined insects were classified as new species. Name: Drosophila harrisburgii. Further appearance not known. Signed: A scientific collaborator of the institute, Thursday, January 14th, 1988”. End of the case.
What was really behind Drosophila harrisburgii, the „Harrisburg Fruit Fly”? Nobody knows exactly. Also the real background for their existence is still in the dark. Was it really the incident at the nuclear plant on March 28th, 1979, which caused the mutations of the flies – or have the causes been absolutely natural, and due to Darwin’s theories, the animals got extinct because they were too big and by this not able to survive? It will remain a mystery forever.
© Mig Phönix 2008