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Fly Facility

Department of Genetics

Arrange a Fly Facility induction

Nobody, whether they are a Nobel Prize winner or a high school student, can work in the Fly Facility without having an induction. To arrange for your induction, contact Simon Collier (, ext. 65124, room 115B). The induction will normally be arranged within 48 hours of a request. For short-term workers (undergraduate students, summer students etc.), inductions take about 20 minutes. For longer-term workers (graduate students, postdocs etc.), inductions take about 40 minutes.

Label your fly trays the right way

We need to able to identify who is responsible for every tray in the Fly Lab (115) and know how to contact them (if needed). Put a label on the front of your tray that tells us your name, your Cambridge University ID (CRSid) or email, your research group (or supervisor) and the date of the oldest fly culture (tube, bottle) in the tray. For example:

“Alfred Sturtevant as123 (Morgan lab) 28/3”

Don’t let your flies get old

Old fly cultures are (literally) breeding grounds for mites. Full-blown mite infections can delay experiments, publications, grant submissions, graduation and other scientific endeavors. Please play your part in preventing mite infestations by following these two simple rules:

  1. No fly cultures in the 25oC rooms (CT1/CT4) more than 20 days old
  2. No fly cultures in the 18oC rooms (CT2/CT3) more than 40 days old

We inspect the CT rooms regularly and all trays containing fly cultures 20 days old or older (at 25oC), or 40 days or over (at 18oC) are removed and placed on the Sin Bin (a trolley at the very back of the fly lab). Trays will remain on the Sin Bin for only a short while before being thrown away. We may try (but don’t guarantee) to contact you before your flies are thrown out. Your best option is to remember to flip your flies into a new tube/bottle before the culture gets too old.

Don’t let your flies escape

Your flies should not be allowed to escape from the lab. There are numerous design features of the Fly Lab (115) that prevent flies escaping, but you still need to play your part. Design your fly handling procedures to minimize the chance of fly escape, and keep a close eye on the fate of all your flies including larvae, pupae and embryos. All unwanted flies should be sent to the autoclave or submerged in alcohol. (Killing by freezing is another possibility, but not our preferred option, since you will need to ensure that the flies truly succumb to the cold.)

Quarantine all new fly stocks

To reduce the possibility of introducing mites or other parasitic/infectious pests into the Fly Lab, you must quarantine all new fly stocks for at least 2 generations in the Isolation/Quarantine Area (room 301 in the east attic). This applies to all stocks that enter the Genetics building, including those from local labs or stock centres. There is a small Fly Lab and several incubators in the Isolation Area, so you can still work with your new flies.

Work safely

You should be familiar with the Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), Risk Assessments (RAs) and Control Of Substances Hazardous to Health (COSHH) assessments associated with any work you do in the Fly Facility. Copies of these documents are kept in a purple safety folder in the Fly Lab (115) and the Fly Lab office (115A). If you plan to undertake a new procedure in the Fly Facility, you must ensure that the SOP, RA and COSHH documents for this procedure have been generated and copies are put in the purple safety folders.

Take care of your health

Drosophila are not dangerous animals to handle, but a small proportion of people will develop allergies through contact with the flies. All our fly workers are assessed regularly by Occupational Health for signs of allergic reaction. However, you should also actively manage your own health. If you are prone to allergies or asthmatic, you might consider the use of an FFP3 grade face mask (they are available in the Fly Lab) when working with flies. In addition, do not ignore possible early signs of fly allergy (runny nose, sneezing, skin rash), seek attention at once from Occupational Health or your own doctor.

Do not ignore alarms

  • Ambient CO2 alarm (Gasmaster): The Gasmaster control panel is the grey and orange box located above the sink by the main entrance to the Fly Lab (115). The alarm will sound if the CO2 concentration within the Fly Lab reaches a level that is considered potentially hazardous to health. In the unlikely event that this happens, you should leave the lab immediately. Facility staff will inform you when the CO2 level has returned to normal and it is safe to re-enter the lab. 

Clean up after yourself

When you have finished working in the Fly Lab (115) please:

  • Return your flies to the incubator
  • Return your unused fly food to the cupboards at the front of the lab
  • Return your fly tools to the drawer/cupboard you keep them in
  • Discard stuff do you don't need in the appropriate locations (see below)
  • Wipe down the area where you have been working using the 'Safe Zone' spray
  • Replace the cover on the dissecting microscope

Please clear your space whenever you leave the Fly Lab unless you plan to return immediately.

Dispose of stuff in the right place

  • Unwanted flies: Tap unwanted flies into the fly morgue; there is one at each workstation. If the morgue is full, pour the contents into the sink at the back of the lab and run cold water until the dead flies have all been washed down the drain. Refill the morgue with ethanol from the yellow flammables cabinet at the back of the lab.
  • Used glass fly tubes: Put these in the top tier of the red trolley at the end of each bench. Don’t leave them loose, always put them in a tray so that they don’t get broken. The tubes are autoclaved, washed and re-used.
  • Used glass fly bottles: Put these in the bottom tier of the red trolley at the end of each bench. The bottles are autoclaved, washed and re-used.
  • Used towels: Use towels once only, then put them in the top tier of the red trolley at the end of each bench (the same place as the used fly tubes). They are washed and reused.
  • Used fly trays: When you have finished with a fly tray, put it on one of the metal trolleys at the ends of the fly lab benches. It will be washed and reused. You should change your fly trays regularly to help keep the CT rooms clean and discourage mites.
  • Used plastic: Used plastic fly tubes and collection plates (petri dishes) go into the clear plastic autoclave bags. They will be autoclaved and discarded.
  • Broken glass: Put broken glass into the small cardboard 'broken glass' boxes under the end of the benches (near the trolleys). Please make every effort to prevent flies escaping from glass bin.
  • Cardboard/paper etc.: These materials go into the waste paper bins. Please think about which items can be recycled.

Leaving the Fly Lab

If you are the last to leave the Fly Lab (115) in the evening or during the weekend you should:

  • Turn off the CO2 supply where it enters the lab. This is to your right as you leave the lab, in the corner by the windows. To turn off the CO2, turn the black tap behind the gauge a quarter turn clockwise. Do not turn the blue/black pressure regulator in front of the guage! Turning off the CO2 supply ensures that we do not lose all our CO2 if there is a leak in the lab system. If the lab is empty when you arrive, you may need to turn on the supply by turning the black tap a quarter turn anti-clockwise.

Contact Information

Tiny fly

E-mail contacts

Simon Collier (Fly Facility Manager):

General Fly Facility enquiries:

Microinjection enquiries:

Fly food enquiries:

Stock collection requests and enquiries:


Department of Genetics,
University of Cambridge, Downing Street,
Cambridge CB2 3EH,
United Kingdom

Phone: +44 (0)1223 765124
Fax: +44 (0)1223 333992


The Fly Facility webpages are maintained by Simon Collier. Please contact me ) if you have any problems using the site.