We have been working a lot with flies over the years, essentially using them as deluxe assistants that collect nucleic acids from mammals and their pathogens and bring them back to our traps and, ultimately, lab. At the end of the week, Molecular Ecology will publish the final version of an article describing our first study focused on flies themselves.
Jan spearheaded this work with the aim to determine whether flies actively follow wild nonhuman primates and if so, whether they also carry pathogens. It turns out flies are first-class boring with our cousins, too. On top of that, they also contain viable rainforest anthrax, which is responsible of ca. 40% of wildlife mortality in the area. Whether flies really contribute to the epidemiology of this pathogen or are just dead-end samplers however remains to be determined.
If you want to know how nail polish can be used to investigate the costs of evolving social systems (because it really can be used for that, too), this article is an urgent read!