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Monday, 01 September, 2008

The Science Of Fly-Swatting

Research results: The perfect way to swat a fly: stay one jump ahead.

It is a frustrating experience familiar to us all: an irritating, buzzing housefly that easily avoids our best attempts to swat it.

The perfect swatting strategy, however, has now been revealed by scientists who have identified why the insects are so good at evading rolled-up newspapers - and how they might be outwitted.

The right approach is to aim not at the insects themselves because they are extraordinarily good at anticipating where exactly your blow will land. "It is best to aim a bit forward of the fly's starting position, to anticipate where it is going to jump when it first sees your swatter," said Michael Dickinson, of the California Institute of Technology, who led the study.

In the research, published in the journal Current Biology, Dr Dickinson's team used high-resolution, high-speed imaging technology to examine how flies move to avoid impending threats.

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