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The Humble Fly

Mohd. Farid
flickr creative commons

There are thought to be about 17 quadrillion flies alive on Earth at any one time. That’s 17 million for every living human.

They’re predators and parasites and pests, but they’re pollinators too. They help us solve crimes, heal wounds, and understand genetics and evolution. And they literally help at least one artist paint his paintings.

Also this hour: A look at David Cronenberg’s 1986 remake of The Fly on the week of its 35th anniversary.


  • Jonathan Balcombe - Author of Super Fly: The Unexpected Lives of the World’s Most Successful Insects
  • John Knuth - An artist; his work is part of Reunion, A Group Exhibition at Hollis Taggart in Southport, Conn., showing until September 4
  • Gale Ridge - Associate scientist at the Connecticut Agricultural Experiment Station
  • Jacob Trussell - Author of The Binge Watcher’s Guide to The Twilight Zone; his latest piece for Film School Rejects is “Only Jeff Goldblum Could Make Us Fall in Love with ‘The Fly.’

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Colin McEnroe and Cat Pastor contributed to this show.

Jonathan started at WNPR in 2010. He is as likely to produce a show on America’s jury system as he is a story on all the grossest parts of the human body. He's as likely to host a podcast on minor league baseball as he is to cover a presidential debate almost by accident. His work has been heard nationally on NPR and locally on WNPR’s talk shows and news magazines.