Thursday, 7 May 2015

On How To Swat A Fly

I wrote a letter a little time ago, in response to Focus Magazine's article on how to swat a fly. The Editor passed my piece on to their original writer. I have reprinted my own response article for him, here publicly.

Dear Focus,

Timandra Harkness's article of 'How To Swat A Fly' was most interesting to me - seeing as I consider myself a veritable war veteran in battling the buzzing nuisances. I would however like to share some of my own findings with you if I may.

My own successful strategy against flies likewise accounts for the behavioural strengths of my enemy, but I consider other elements to be import.
For example, what if I told you that most of my successful kills come from magazine (never yours) usage for the grim task? Yes the relative viscosity of air to fly is a challenge, but a hunter like myself enjoys such a challenge. 
We get past the problem by understanding just two things about flies. 

Firstly, flies can and will take off backwards, thus throwing off your attempt. I attack accounting for this predictive escape trajectory, thus making better contact to push in opposition to mid air lift.

Secondly, flies have remarkably clever eyes. They get away so often because their visual breakdown of the threat is effectively played out in slow motion for them, so they see you coming long before you hit.
This idea inspired something truly dastardly! I decided to use that strength against them. 
Therefore, I move my weapon of choice - magazine, paper or swatter progressively closer to the fly, but I approach slowly. So slowly in fact that it requires an awful lot of self discipline to keep it up. I reasoned that if I moved so slow, flies would slow that down to something less noticeable. 
I further compound this effect with confusion, as I move the implement closer then further away, then further still on the next approach - a  two steps forward one step back technique as it were. This means that should the fly look up intermittently at something getting closer, it will look again and see it further away once more - thus luring it  into false calm.

I can get so close to them that I can practically stroke their heads, but of course at the last moment, I slam and...that is how to swat a fly.

Robert Freemantle