Do Bananas Give Birth to Maggots?

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Author: Jane Healey

Grade Level: 6th; Type: Earth Science


The goal of this project is to disprove the theory that decaying fruit gives birth to living organisms like insects. Instead, the project demonstrates that the rotting food attracts insects that lay eggs on it. Those eggs hatch and become early stage insects like maggots.

Research Questions:

  • How do maggots form on decaying fruit?
  • Do the fruit attract them or generate them?

Flies and other insects swarm near dying organisms, so initial theories of their presence assumed that they came from the decaying matter itself. The idea was called spontaneous generation, and it was popular until the 19th century. A famous experiment by Francesco Redi suggested that decaying food does not produce living organisms.

The independent variables in this experiment are the covers for the jars, and the dependent variables are the formations of maggots on the fruit. The constants include the fruit and the conditions.


  • Bananas
  • 1-liter jars
  • Logbook

Experimental Procedure:

  1. Label three jars.
  2. Peel 3 bananas and place them in two of the jars.
  3. Close the lid on one jar.
  4. Cover one jar with a piece of cotton cloth like a handkerchief or napkin.
  5. Leave the last jar uncovered.
  6. Leave the jars undisturbed for 2 weeks.
  7. Observe the jars daily and record the details:
    • Color of the banana
    • Insects in the jar
    • Presence of maggots

A simple table and photographs will visually display the results:

Terms/Concepts: Maggots; Louis Pasteur; Francesco Redi; Spontaneous Generation


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