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I am a mad scientist who has discovered a way of efficiently killing all sorts of annoying flies, from mosquitoes to fruit flies, and want to unleash my creation upon the unsuspecting buzzers. However, I want to do it in a way such that I don't destroy the entire ecosystem by removing an important food source for birds, bats, frogs, etc. or replace any sort of other potentially useful properties of the flies (including preventing aliens from destroying the earth).

How can I best accomplish this?

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closed as too broad by JDługosz, type_outcast, James, Green, AndreiROM Mar 31 '16 at 13:50

Please edit the question to limit it to a specific problem with enough detail to identify an adequate answer. Avoid asking multiple distinct questions at once. See the How to Ask page for help clarifying this question. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ In addition to being a direct food source for many animals we depend on, flying insects also contribute to the waste cycle by eating necrotic flesh and depositing their eggs which hatch into larvae which further break down dead organisms, helping the nutrients therein to be absorbed back into the soil, helping to grow crops and oxygenating plants and whatnot. As written, I don't believe your question has a sensible answer; I see no way to kill all flying insects without seriously harming (if not eradicating!) most life on Earth. $\endgroup$ – type_outcast Mar 31 '16 at 3:53
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    $\begingroup$ Why don't you just get rid of mosquitos? We can live without them. $\endgroup$ – Xandar The Zenon Mar 31 '16 at 4:36
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    $\begingroup$ You're not a mad scientist if you consider the consequences, pull the lever and have done! $\endgroup$ – Separatrix Mar 31 '16 at 7:55
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    $\begingroup$ Why are people confusing flies for all flying insects? Let's just limit it to houseflies. $\endgroup$ – cst1992 Mar 31 '16 at 9:07
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    $\begingroup$ @type_outcast But it still won't include pollinating insects such as bees and butterflies; they're not 'flies'. $\endgroup$ – cst1992 Mar 31 '16 at 13:08
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Three approaches.

Approach One: slow and steady.

Unleash your creation over the course of 100 million years. That will give the ecosystems enough time to adapt. After all, the best things in life are worth waiting for.

Approach Two: apologetically.

Kill off the flies in small area, and observe what ecosystems change. Say you're sorry to any birds or frogs you kill. Use your mad scientist skills to invent something which resolves those changes so it doesn't happen again. Then go to another small area and repeat. Remember to say you're sorry if you mess it up. Eventually you find that you can kill small areas off without any trouble. Now pick a larger area and repeat. If you mess up one of the larger areas, make sure everyone knows you're really sorry. Eventually you will develop an effective fly substitute (less calories, but tastes great!) which you can unleash alongside your creation.

Approach Three: *#&!@ it all

You don't want to unleash your fly killer without disrupting an ecosystem. Nuke the ecosystem from orbit. No ecosystem was destroyed by the removal of an important food source in this process. They were removed by fusion and/or fission! It's science, peoples!

Then, once there are no more frogs or bats or birds to disrupt with your fly killer, feel free to unleash your creation without there being an ecosystem to disrupt (though it may not find many remaining flies to kill).

After all, why be a mad scientist if you can't abuse a few measly loopholes!

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    $\begingroup$ Approach Four: move to the moon $\endgroup$ – Cort Ammon Mar 31 '16 at 4:07
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    $\begingroup$ Approach Five: ask the White House how do they enforce their "No Fly" zone $\endgroup$ – SJuan76 Mar 31 '16 at 7:53
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Make a substitute to replace them - but you're going to have a hard time doing it.

Flies as a whole are a huge group of insects, and killing them all would have a devastating effect on life on Earth. For starters, flies:

  1. Are an important food source for many small animals - birds, frogs, reptiles, spiders, and many insects - which are themselves important food sources for larger carnivores
  2. Play a huge part in quickly and efficiently getting rid of dead plants and animals before they can spread disease
  3. Pollinate many kinds of plants which would die out without them

If you want to get rid of all the flies without disrupting (or completely destroying) the ecosystem, you're going to have to first engineer a less annoying creature that can fill all those roles. Keep in mind that many species of flies are specialized for decomposing or pollinating specific species, so you'd have to come up with either an extreme generalist or millions of specialized neo-flies.

You're much better off trying to figure out an effective way of repelling flies than trying to kill them all. Plus, then you could sell your invention to practically everyone and make a whole lot of money.

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    $\begingroup$ This has to be the answer the most fitting the spirit of the question without creating all sorts of other angles of disbelief. Things go extinct on their own all the time; in this case just use science to nudge that along for the flies. Bonus points if whatever your fly-substitute is (maybe just a really really small bird that can be eaten the same way a fly is?) can outcompete and/or eat the flies too. $\endgroup$ – Jeff Meden Mar 31 '16 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ @JeffMeden: Creating an organism that out-competes the flies in their own niches is probably the most efficient way of killing all flies anyway. $\endgroup$ – IndigoFenix Mar 31 '16 at 13:43
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Here's how.

1- Take a common virus (any would do).

2- Genetically program the virus to attach to proteins found only in your target species body.

3- After invading the cell, the virus ought not make copies of itself (that's what all old fashioned viruses do) but instead changes some genes in the cell so that the cell starts producing botulinum.

4- Botulinum is the most lethal compound on Earth and would kill the target. The virus would die along with the target (it did not make copies of itself).

5- Prepare large amounts of your virus and spray it in the air. First in a few miles area and if you find that there are no adverse secondary effects of the elimination of the target species (remember, you make one different virus for every species), you keep increasing the spraying area. Until after a few years, you have tested that it is safe to eliminate certain species completely from the world. And then you spray the virus all over the world.

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  • $\begingroup$ Without some intense hand-waving, creating a virus that doesn't reproduce on its own will cause you to have to put a LOT of effort into making enough copies for that plan to work. Maybe it could make copies AND produce a little botulinum along the way? $\endgroup$ – Jeff Meden Mar 31 '16 at 15:41
  • $\begingroup$ @JeffMeden: The reason why I didn't mention replicating itself was that given enough initial population, bacteria and viruses quickly evolve to take on different forms (one reason why hepatitis C vaccine hasn't been developed yet). So if that virus doesn't get get killed with its victim, there are plausible chances it would mutate and get to infect other species of flies too and maybe later be able to infect insects in general. p.s. yes, the concept does indeed have a large hand-wavium factor in it. There's no denying it. $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Mar 31 '16 at 15:44
  • $\begingroup$ I would humbly submit that it's more believable to suggest a species-specific highly fatal virus can fully die off with the species before it mutates, than that it's practical to hand-mold enough copies of a non-reproducing virus to distribute globally (since you would need at least a few for each of the 17 quadrillion flies in the world and that's supposing you had a delivery mechanism that assured exposure) $\endgroup$ – Jeff Meden Mar 31 '16 at 15:51
  • $\begingroup$ @JeffMeden: Oh, it's not that the mad scientist would have to create every individual virus copy through modification of other virus. No no. That would be outrageously impractical. Instead, the mad scientist can replicate the virus quickly but only in strictly controlled laboratory conditions. The virus cannot replicate itself naturally when it invades a cell. $\endgroup$ – Youstay Igo Mar 31 '16 at 15:54

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