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Why are House Flies so Hard to Swat?

We have all been tasked with the duty of swatting the odd housefly trapped in our home. We all also know how hard it can be to kill one of these pests. But why exactly are they so hard to kill? In this article we take a look at the reasons the housefly is so hard to swat.


The housefly has an eye on each side of its head. But these eyes are not like yours or mine. These are special eyes in that they can see 360 degrees around a fly’s body. They are large compound eyes that do not have a pupil. Instead they see light and objects and process the information all at once without having to fix a pupil on the target or threat first. Click to see enlarged image of fly

One limitation they do have is that they are near-sighted. They can really only see a few yards around them and anything beyond that is a blur.

Antennae and Hairs

The housefly has two main antennae and are covered with hairs which all act in-concert to smell their environment. They have a very strong sense of smell when it comes to newly dead and rotting organic material. This is why there are often flies on a dead animal before anyone has even discovered it. The flies not only feed on the flesh but they lay their eggs on it as well.

The hairs also act to sense disturbances in the air around the fly. When your hand moved toward the fly to swat it, air pressure builds up in front of your hand and a fly can sense this and knows to get out of the way. This is why a fly swatter has holes in it.

The Matrix

You know that seen in the original Matrix movie where Neo is being shot at and he slows down everything so he can move out of the way of the bullets? The fly can see our movement very much in that way. We are a lumbering sloth in a fly’s eyes. We have to use tricks and tools to swat a healthy agile housefly. Humans will often use fast-moving sprays, fly swatters and traps to manage their housefly problem. Pest maintenance experts can help with a fly problem as well.


  • Always have screened doors and windows which are in good working order. Flies are too large to get through the typical screen pattern.
  • Make sure the door is closed behind you immediately when you walk in and out of your home.
  • Make sure you store your outdoor trash in a bin that is not near your door. This is the most common way flies get in.
  • Make sure not to leave food laying out when it is not being eaten.


05 Jan

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