Ever wonder why flies always get away when you try to swat them? It turns out they're extremely acrobatic. Like, Neo-in-the-Matrix acrobatic. And New Scientist has captured one in near bullet-time to prove it.
This video is one of the winners in a contest held by the Flight Artists group at the Wageningen University in the Netherlands in which amateur filmmakers were taught how to use very high-speed cameras to shoot flying animals and plant seeds. The video captured here was taken by two biologists from the University of Washington and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute who study fruit flies in flight.
What they captured is a maneuver that takes place so quickly that it can't really be observed in real time. It's an evasive maneuver, undertaken when the fly is startled by something. As you can see, it goes into a quick and graceful forward somersault from its perch and catches air as it starts to fall, allowing it to regain control and fly away. Not bad for a fruit fly.
SO safe to assume then that the best way to swat a fly is from in front of it?
No. Exactly the opposite. The fly emergency take off system is amazing but it's also totally hardwired, and as a result totally predictable.
When a fly is startled, it leaps backwards about 3-6 inches at about a 45 degree angle. You want to catch a fly out of the air when it is sitting on a flat level surface, aim for that point. In this case the fly overbalanced and did a little stall loop. Possibly also predictable based on the angle.
The best way to swat, or catch, a fly is to wait until he rubs his hands together (he will) and then quickly swat or swipe your hand across and you will snag him almost every time. Guaranteed. Note that most insect-eating reptiles don't like the taste of fly. I wonder why?
My dog makes $34,456,874 a year by laying on the porch all day.
I agree, I had a batch of skink eggs that I hatched. Before releasing them, I tried feeding flies to them they wouldn't eat them.