In this 1910 film, a housefly perched (glued?) on a matchstick, demonstrates fantastic feats of insect strength and agility. From the British Film Institute:
This truly delightful (or singularly repellent) film is the work of Percy Smith, pioneer of a particularly engaging early form of natural filmmaking. 'The Acrobatic Fly' is one of a series of Smith films on similar subjects around this time, and near identical to, though briefer than, a sequence in his 1911 release 'The Strength and Agility of Insects', which also features similarly impressive accomplishments by a scorpion, a flea, a grasshopper and a praying mantis. Viewers might worry about the techniques used to secure such performances, but Smith always insisted that his stars were none the worse for their moment in the spotlight.
Learn more about Percy Smith at the British Film Institute's Screenonline site.
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Entomophthora muscae, the "fly destroyer," is a fungus that infects the insect and zombifies. Then, at dusk, "the fly points its wings straight up and dies in a gruesome pose so that a fungus can ooze out and fire hundreds of reproductive spores."
“Oh, it’s a nightmare for the flies,” retired UC Riverside entomologist Brad Mullens told KQED's Deep Look. “If their little brains could comprehend it, they would live in fear.” Read the rest
Zebras may have evolved their distinctive stripes as a way to interfere with flies' vision. Flies have difficulty landing on black-and-white surfaces because the light polarization screws up their ability to decelerate.
Recently, researchers in Japan painted black cows with zebra-like white stripes and discovered that flies stay away from them. Whoever painted the cows did good work, they look dapper.
A team of Japanese researchers recruited six cows and gave them each black-and-white stripes, black stripes and no stripes. They took photos of the cow's painted right side, counting the number of bites as they happened and watching how the cows reacted.
While unpainted cows and cows with black stripes endured upward of 110 bites in 30 minutes, the black-and-white cows suffered fewer than 60 in the same period, researchers found.
Image: PLOS/Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) Read the rest
Since 2011, Andy Gracie has been selectively breeding flies to thrive under the harsh environmental conditions on Titan, Saturn's largest moon: dark, cold (-179.2C), and with very low atmospheric pressure.
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It took me a few moments to realize that the flies were being shuffled into a can rather than mechanically chopped to pieces by the rotating fins. So you end up with a can writhing with live flies! And yet there is still no screen version of Iain Banks' The Wasp Factory. [via]
It (or something very similar) is available on Amazon for $15. Here's the provided guide to "attract flies."
Fish is the best. Read the rest
Kenny Hickman stopped to get a tank of gas from a station on Military Road in Slidell, Louisiana and discovered it was covered in A SWARM OF MAYFLIES! So, instead of pumping gas, he shot this video which his wife Sandy Callegan Hickman posted on Facebook. It will undoubtedly make your skin crawl.
FYI: This site tells you ways to "survive" a mayfly swarm.
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We found this little fellow in the garage preparing dinner. Despite a sultry summer, we've been free of flies and I figure it's all thanks to Team Cellar Spider.
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I'll have to ask the waiter for another. Read the rest
The Bug-A-Salt 2.0 fires common table salt at house flies. It is much more fun, and effective, than a flyswatter.
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Behold, the common housefly — Musca domestica. You know it as a connoisseur of both sugar water and disgusting crap (literally), but this animal is also, deep inside, a sensitive arteest. Human artist John Knuth figured out how to help M. domestica express its passionate, aesthetic side in a series of paintings that exploit basic housefly behavior.
Houseflies "taste" with their feet. Their appendages are covered with chemically sensitive hairs, called chemoreceptors, which means that houseflies spend a lot of time walking around on top of their food. In addition, they can only eat liquids. If they encounter something delicious-but-solid they must first liquify it by slathering it in digestive juices. Finally, because they have to not-exactly-vomit on solid food so often, houseflies also need a lot of liquid in their diet to remain sufficiently hydrated. And that, as this pregnant lady can tell you, means the flies are also using the bathroom fairly frequently.
Knuth puts these rather disgusting traits to work in the name of art by supplying his flies with ample quantities of colored sugar water and lining their cages with canvas. The flies track the colors all over the canvas, in the form of brightly hued footprints, digestive juices, and excrement. The results are much more attractive than you might guess.
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