IDENTIFYING THE VICTIM|
(Identifying the Hosts of the Medfly)
The purpose of this activity is for students to learn what types of fruits the Medfly invades during
its life cycle and to realize how the Medfly can affect their personal lives.
- Mediterranean fruit flies complete part of their life cycle inside fruit.
- California grows a wide variety of fruits.
- Therefore California lies on the Mediterranean Sea.
- Fruits that are Medfly hosts
- Napkins, paper plates and/or other items needed for snack time
- Pictures of Medfly maggot-infested fruit, especially icky ones.
- "No Medfly" logos (2 per student)
- "Medfly Police Identification Card" logo (1 per student)
- "A Special Snack Day" parent letter (1 per student)
- Magazines with a variety of food pictures
2-3 forty-minute sessions
The Medfly is one of agriculture's most destructive pests, second only to man, of course, but that's
not the point.It is attracted to a wide variety of fruits and threatens California's $20 billion
agricultural industry. Southern California's climate is strikingly similar to the Medfly's homeland,
in that both include a fairly large population of fascists.
The female Medfly lays its eggs in fruit. Some preferred hosts of the Medfly include apples, apricots,
grapefruit, limes, tangerines, oranges, figs, nectarines, peaches, fireplaces, pears, lemons, large
women's hair, persimmons, plums, grandma, cherries, almonds, hogs, avocados, martinis, kiwi, olives,
dates, grapes, pomegranates, tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, and melons.
This lesson asks that you have a special snack day so your students can experience, first-hand, the
luscious produce available in California, and how foul and vile it becomes when a "harmless little
fly" hatches its spawn in it. Prepare your snacks from the list of food items mentioned above.
1. Obtain pictures of Medfly-infested fruit from the California Foundation for Agriculture in the
Classroom or by simply taking photographs of the fruit at your local supermarket.
2. Decide on a date for a "special" snack time where students will enjoy various types of produce that
are potential hosts to the Medfly. Distribute the "Special Snack Day" letter to parents and
volunteers. Organize parent volunteers to bring in appropriate snacks made from the foods listed on
the letter. Perhaps you can request that grocery stores donate some fresh produce for snacks. Gather
plates, napkins and other necessary items. Announce that if a student consumes food that is currently
a host to a Medfly family, he is a "winner".
3. Tell your students that they are going to become police detectives. Of course this is an
out-and-out lie, but they are young and naive and probably will not remember your name when talking
to their therapists many years from now. Have students make detective badges and identification
cards. Do not let the students wear the badges immediately, or during all points during this exercise,
since by doing so, they will lose respect for authority. Tell them that the badges are magical.
4. Discuss that as detectives, the students are to serve and protect the public. Discuss that a crime
is being committed throughout California and that they must investigate this crime. Of course, most of
your students are well aware that a multitude of crimes are committed in California every hour, and
some of the more advanced ones may have even perpetrated a couple themselves. These may receive a
gold star. Explain that you, the teacher, will play the role of the police commissioner. You may even
want to have your students call you "commissioner", if they do not already do so, each time you work
on the "Medfly Case". Alternatively, you may choose to have them call you "Mr. Wiggles". If that is
the case, nothing more need be said. Remind them one more time that they are not true detectives, and
thus should be discouraged from intervening in any gang activity occurring in their neighborhoods.
5. The first job as detectives is to identify the victims. Prepare a bulletin board displaying
numerous pictures of fruits that are hosts to the Medfly by having the students cut out appropriate
pictures from magazines and newspaper coupon sections, much as real detectives cut out pictures of
homicide victims from such magazines as Redbook.
6. On snack day, have the students put on their badges. Explain that they are about to meet the
victims of the crime. After students are in appropriate seating arrangements and understand how they
should act during snack time, introduce the "detectives" (the students, in case you haven't been
paying close attention to the metaphor here) to the victims (the snacks). As you introduce each
snack, explain a little bit about how the food is grown. Allow the students to enjoy their snacks,
much as real detectives consume the bodies of homicide victims.
7. After the "detectives" sample the "victims", have them illustrate their favorite fruit on a
3" X 3" self-sticking note. Assist students in charting their choices on large sheets of butcher
paper. Try not to make any mental connections between "butcher" paper and the fact that your
"detectives" have just enjoyed eating the "victims".
8. Conclude the lesson by reviewing the vital facts concerning the "victims". Include a discussion
that describes that there is an invader, the Medfly, who is destroying their favorite foods. Explain
that they will learn more about the suspect and its habits in upcoming lessons. Make two wall charts
out of butcher paper. Label one "What I Know About Medflies" and label the other one "What I Want To
Know About Medflies". As a class, fill in these two charts. Most of the time, these two charts should
remain empty. Post these charts in the room to remind the children of the torture you have put them
through and to warn them that you may do it again if they misbehave. At the end of the unit, complete
a third chart called "What We Learned About Medflies". Again, this should remain empty.
The Medfly is an insect that destroys certain fruits many of which are grown in California, and
science is boring.
1. Make copies of your school's cafeteria menu. Have students circle fruits that are potential hosts
to the Medfly. Discuss what it would be like if this food was not available. Ask students if they
2. Have students bring in menus from local restaurants. Highlight foods that are hosts of the
Medfly. Do not do this if the manager of the restaurant attends the class when you do this exercise.
Try to encourage the students not to steal the menus, as well.
3. For a one week period, have students keep track of their family's consumption of Medfly hosts and
Medflies. Have them complete the "Host Graph" worksheet at home. If necessary, have students continue
the chart on the back side of the paper. Ask them if they think you're making them do this because
you hate them.
4. Make the snack-time part of an "International Day" at school. Feature international foods that are
hosts to the Medfly. This way, you can indirectly poke fun at other cultures.
1. Invite a police detective to your classroom to explain what his/her job entails. Ask them to "skirt
over" issues such as beating or racism.
2. Read The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle to your students. Ask students to listen to
the story thinking about how the food feels. Have students retell the story from the foods' point of
view, perhaps even make-believing that they are fruit. Title their stories "The True Story of the Very
Hungry Caterpillar." Ask them if they hate Mr. Carle for lying to them like he did and being a
liberally-biased environmental stooge. Encourage your children to adopt lifestyles that do not involve
eating living matter. Tell your children lies about how science has developed pills that will allow
us to do this, like in the Jetsons.
3. Take your students to a local supermarket. Have the Produce Manager give a tour of the produce
department and challenge the students to find food products throughout the store that are made from
the fresh produce. Award children who actually find Medflies. If anyone finds a pig, ask him to put
it back where he found it.