How to Catch a Fly in Your Hand

Photo: MATHAWEE PHUTO, Shutterstock
Photo: MATHAWEE PHUTO, Shutterstock

One of the perks of living in a desert climate is that you don’t necessarily need air conditioning — in many cases, evaporative cooling will do the trick. Since so-called swamp coolers work best with good air circulation, we can leave our windows (and sometimes our doors) cracked all summer long. The downside? Flies buzzing around. All day, every day.

Flies are notoriously difficult to swat, which apparently is because they’re actually wired to react quickly to the threat of death by human hand. They have an extremely well-controlled, aerodynamic flight pattern and can ramp up to full speed in 1/50 of a blink (seriously).

So what to do?

Instead of going right for the fly, redditor u/Wormy013 suggests clapping directly above it. The fly will react to the motion of your hands and fly up between them. You can also move your hands in an upward arc (rather than straight from the side) as you clap.

Next-level fly catching can be done one-handed. The same principle applies: you’ll want to aim slightly above the fly with a cupped hand. Move quickly in an upward motion, and close your fist loosely once you’ve got ahold of the fly. Follow these diagrams for more detailed instructions.

If you’d rather not end up with fly guts all over your skin, you can loosely cup one or both hands instead of clapping or making a fist. Another alternative to squashing them is to keep a spray bottle of water handy to squirt them as they fly. It’s likely (but not guaranteed) that you’ll temporarily immobilise them rather than kill them, allowing you to move them back outside where they belong.

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