Monday, September 01, 2008

No swat - flies know when they're being stalked

by Eleanor Tylbor

One can hear them flitting around the room, the drone of their buzz reaching human hearing range. The "normal" reaction is to grab the nearest object and wait until they are within swatting range in an attempt to rid the source of the annoying noise. The end result, however, for the most part is the fly lives to fly another day.

Once again and all in the name of important scientific research, U.S. scientists think they have solved the mystery of why flies are difficult to swat.

Given the scientific and medical issues and questions requiring their attention, one would think that there are more pressing issues than studying why harrassed humans miss swatting flies. Be that as it may...

They think - presumably unproven - that the fly's ability to sustain its life cycle is due to its fast acting brain and ability to plan ahead. Go figure that flies can plan ahead!

The study includes high speed, high resolution video recordings revealing that the insects quickly work out where a threat is coming from and prepare an escape route. Furthermore,
the research suggests that the best way of swatting a fly is to creep up slowly and aim ahead of its location.

So, the swat-er being the human, must anticipate the landing spot of the swat-ee being the fly, and wait and hope that the fly will at some point land in the vicinity of the waiting newspaper/ fly swatter/whatever, to hit the mark.

Read the entire story for hints on more effective fly-swatting and an explanation on how the research was conducted here:

The study has been published in the journal Current Biology. One wonders how much money was involved in this important scientific research.

For those who care, see a close up of a fly's head here:

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