Heat hardening increases thermal resistance to more extreme temperatures in the laboratory. However, heat hardening also has negative consequences, and the net benefit of hardening has not been evaluated in the field. We tested short-term heat hardening effects on the likelihood of Drosophila melanogaster to be caught at different temperatures at baits in field sites without natural resources. We predicted that hardened flies should be more frequently caught at the baits at high but not low temperatures. Under cool conditions, flies hardened at 36 degrees C, and to a lesser extent at 34 degrees C, were less frequently caught at baits than nonhardened flies a few hours after release, indicating a negative effect of hardening. In later captures, negative effects tended to disappear, particularly in males. Under warm conditions, there was an overall balance of negative and positive effects, though with a different temporal resolution. Under very hot conditions, when capture rates were low, there was a large benefit of hardening at 36 degrees C and 34 degrees C but not 33 degrees C. Finally, based on climatic records, the overall benefit of hardening in D. melanogaster is discussed as an evolved response to high temperatures occasionally experienced by organisms at some locations.