Lord of the Fruit Flies

Alternative Title: [We] Got Worms: January Update

As I left for winter break, I stocked my classroom worms up with plenty of compostable material for them to break down over break. I wasn’t worried about them starving to death and I was excited to see what two weeks of uninterrupted life would mean for their efficiency.

Upon my return, I noticed that they had eaten over half of the food supply I had left them and that the only obvious pieces left were the exteriors of pumpkins and squash. It was a welcome sight.


Little tiny black objects started hurling themselves around the room. “Nuviivak” the children screamed as they ran around and swatted at the air. Nuviivak (also found spelt “nuviuvak” pronounced new-vee-vuck) is the Inupiaq word for fly. My students are not big fans of insects.

Bugs usually carry negative connotations around here. All the mosquitos that cause problems in the area in the summer, disappear with winter and bed bugs and lice are harder to get rid of when you don’t have running water.

After a morning of calming the students and repeating that these bugs are called “fruit flies” and that they are not harmful to humans nor will they make the -30ºF walk home with them, we finally found our peace… for a while. My students started telling others that they weren’t harmful, in fact they were helpful and lived with the worms.

In the meantime, I set up various children-safe traps around the room and added dry bedding to the worm boxes so that the flies would hopefully be unable to escape (or return) and they would slowly die off.

But…they multiply so fast.

And…oh how the children react.

Before long, they were everywhere. Not just in our classroom, but around the school. It was time to take drastic measures.

That was how the worm box ended up on my home’s front porch, waiting to freeze out the fruit flies, the worms serving as collateral damage. Until some strong wind blew…and the worm box made it into our cunnychuck. What a first couple weeks back we had.

End of story is that the worms are unfortunately no longer with the class. They did well, we learned a lot. We even ended our time with them with the coincidence of our weekly reading story being about recycling and composting. The students had the background knowledge to really dive in. It was great well it lasted and its time had run its course.

But, there’s always that one student who keeps dreaming in a different direction and isn’t afraid to use their conch shell.

“You should just get a goldfish.”