A Scientific Approach To Swatting Flies

Flies are annoying and they're difficult to catch, so your levels of frustration can break through the roof if you spend too much time chasing after them to no avail. Fortunately, Wired Magazine found that the answer to your aggravation lies in our good old friend science.

Flies are so hard to swat because they have a 360-degree field of view. This allows them to see you coming, allowing them to begin a series of postural adjustments so they can fly away quickly — well before your hand (or whatever) deals the crushing blow. Understanding the fly's biology is necessary in the war against it and its will to live. It's faster than you, but it isn't smarter. Wired suggests the following two methods for more effective fly-swatting:

#1: If the crushing blow approaches head-on, the fly shifts its middle legs forward so it can push backward. Anticipate the backward jump by angling the swatter to arc over and then behind the fly.

#2: Perceiving a threat coming from behind, the fly moves its middle legs backward in preparation to launch forward. To land the swat, you have to lead the fly "like a quarterback leading a receiver."

There you have it. You can't beat flies on speed, but you can outsmart them. Use your wits and you should find yourself more successful.

Wired's Lab-Tested, Muppet-Vetted Formulas for Smartifying Your Life [Wired]


    There is a full-proof way of swatting flies, even with your bare hands.

    1.Line both hands op on the same (horizontal) level of the fly
    2. Clap your hands
    3. Dead flie

      I can confirm this works most of the time :)

      Agreed, works a treat...

      Also, if the fly is on your arm, raise your arm toward your open hand, rather than the other way around.

      Also, how the fuck does a quarterback lead a receiver anyway...?

        Yeah. Agreed. I have no idea what the hell that means.
        LIFEHACKER AUSTRALIA. Listen up! We are not American. At least proofread your content to ensure that is is relevant to australian audiences.

        Otherwise, I might as well go to lifehacker US and read the latest posts without delay and still get the americanisms.


        "Also, how the fuck does a quarterback lead a receiver anyway…"

        I've never watched a US NFL game nor played it but I'm fairly certain the receiver is the one who goes running down the field that you try to get the ball to and the Quarterback is the one who tries to lead him so that he can take him out before he gets the ball.


      I figured this out when I was a young child and a fly has barely ever bothered me since.

    Chopsticks anyone ??

    you have to lead the fly “like a quarterback leading a receiver.” <-- what?

      QB throws the ball to where the receiver needs to be, not where he is. In this case move the fly to where you're swatting

    I only have the vaguest idea of what a quarterback is, sort your stuff out Kotaku Australia.

    Another technique involves tricking the fly's 'danger detector.

    A fly's nervous system seems to operate on a derivative function; i.e. rather than sensing the absolute presence of something as a danger (like your hand), it looks for change (e.g., movement.)

    If you approach the fly very slowly from the front with your hand or other item, it usually won't fly away. Sneak in close enough for a guaranteed hit, (10-20 cm or so) then act with explosive quickness and you'll usually get em.

      I hear what you're saying Rob. I prepare my hand for a flick and slowly slide it toward the fly. Then when my thumb is about an inch away I flick and about 1 out of 3 times I strike the fly. Typically I follow through with a stomp to kill the stunned fly.... if I could be bothered. It's more of a boredom activity.

    I usually just press the top of the spay can. Seems to work.

      Really? pressing the top of the spray can swats flies? My, my.

    100% Effective method:
    You put your flat hands 6inchs either side of fly but about 2-4inches higher.
    Just clap your hands as quick as you can and it will fly straight up before it realises your plan.

    - Karate kid

    Yep - another vote for the two handed method. The fly is programmed to jump into the air when it sees a threat coming. So clap your hands just above the fly's head and it will jump straight up into them.

    I read that they also detect movement in air pressure around them, which counts for the hairs on their bodies, so it's not all about sight.
    I always use a tea-towel, CRACK !! They are not as fast as a whip.

    I friggin HATE FLIES and MOSQUITOS! Good tips! Any tried and tested mosquito repellent tips?

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