Flies often rub their “hands” together menacingly, but they are not making evil plans. In fact, this behavior serves many purposes: cleaning; sensing smells; tasting food; grooming; and communicating.
The most obvious reason for fly hand-rubbing is that it helps them stay clean. It gets rid of physical and chemical debris, including anything that could alter their sensors.
Flies are known for being dirty creatures, but this doesn’t necessarily mean they’re filthy. The rubbing they do with their hands actually serves multiple purposes—it gets rid of dust, germs, and other debris that builds up on their legs as they walk around in the environment, grooms them, and helps them cool down.
When a fly lands on something, its taste sensors in its feet can detect the flavor of whatever they’re standing on. This is useful for figuring out whether or not a food item is edible, as well as for detecting any other smells that might lead to food or mates. These taste sensors, however, get dirty as a fly walks around on things; pollen, dust, microbes, and other tiny particles stick to the fly’s legs. It’s important that the taste sensors remain clean, so the fly can properly sense its surroundings.
To keep their taste sensors clean, flies rub their legs together when they’re not walking around in search of a place to land. It may look like they’re behaving menacingly, but the actual reason for this is to eliminate dirt from their legs so the taste sensors work properly.
Aside from cleaning the taste sensors, flies also use their hand-rubbing behavior to communicate with one another and to cool down. As they rub their legs, the vibrations create a buzzing sound that’s recognizable to other flies in the vicinity, allowing them to quickly and easily find one another. This is an essential part of their communication system, helping them find food, mates, and avoid predators.
Flies also use the rubbing of their legs to detect obstacles that may get in their way as they’re flying. The rubbed-together leg movements help them create sounds, which can range from low-pitched buzzes to high-pitched chirps, that let other flies know when they’re close to an object or surface. These noises will alert other flies of potential threats or food sources nearby, giving them enough time to respond accordingly. This is an important safety feature, as flies often fly into objects or walls without realizing it.
Flies have a pair of appendages on the front of their bodies that look like hands, known as their forelegs. These are used for many things, including sensing smells and tasting food, grooming themselves, communicating with other flies, and cooling down. To accomplish these tasks, flies rub their legs together. This may appear to be an aggressive gesture, but it serves an important purpose.
Rubbing their forelegs together helps flies remove any physical or chemical detritus from the sensors on their legs. These sensors are essential to their survival, as they help them find food and mates and navigate through their environment.
Moreover, the rubbing of their legs helps flies to feel vibrations in their surroundings. This allows them to detect the presence of other flies in the area and also communicate with them about potential food or mates.
It’s common for flies to rub their forelegs together when they are close to a source of blood, such as a human. This is because they are attracted to this fluid and they want to suck it out of the person’s body. However, if a fly lands on a person with fur or hair, it will be unable to suck the blood from the surface of the skin. This is why the fly will rub its legs together to remove the hairs and thus allow it to suck blood more easily.
In addition, rubbing its forelegs together also helps the fly cool down. The rubbing causes the bristles on the forelegs to settle in a certain way, which increases the surface area from which heat can escape. This is important for a fly that has been in the sun for a long time, as it needs to be able to maintain its core temperature.
As you can see, flies have a lot of purposes for their “hands,” which is why we often find them rubbing them together menacingly. Though it may look villainous, the behavior has nothing to do with plotting any crimes and everything to do with being an effective fly. So, the next time you catch a fly rubbing its “hands” together, don’t take it personally—it’s just a fly being an epic self-groomer!
You’ve probably seen a fly rub its hands together like a villain, but that gesture isn’t as sinister as it seems. In fact, flies are incredibly careful about grooming themselves — not just their hands, but also their legs and wings. Flies spend a lot of time in filthy environments, so cleaning themselves is an important part of their daily routine.
In addition to getting rid of physical detritus, the rubbing motion helps flies clean their taste receptors as well. Those sensors are crucial for finding food, avoiding predators and mates, and understanding their surroundings. Keeping them clear of dirt and other chemicals allows them to work more effectively.
Flies aren’t the only ones that rub their hands together – so do a variety of insects, including mosquitoes and other biting flies. Flies rub their hands or feet a lot because they need to get rid of odors that cling to them, clean their sense sensors and taste receptors, prepare themselves for flight or fighting, and even dissipate heat when it’s cold outside.
The rubbing motion also helps flies detect obstacles in their path. The vibrations they create by rubbing their hands or legs help them detect noises, which allows them to navigate and find their way around. This is especially important for flies in dark environments, when they can’t use their eyes to see their environment as well.
Hand-rubbing isn’t just about sensing the world around them, though – it’s also about communicating with other flies. When flies rub their hands or legs together, they’re sending messages to other flies in the area about potential food sources and mates.
Flies aren’t just spreading disease by landing on feces and trash, they’re also taking it home with them – in the form of bacteria. To help prevent this from happening, make sure you keep garbage in a closed container outside and don’t let it sit out for too long. It’s also a good idea to have a pest control company take care of any flies you might spot inside your home. That way, you’ll be able to ensure the flies aren’t carrying bacteria into your home where they can spread it to family members and neighbors.
One of the main reasons flies rub their hands together is to clean them. This may seem counterintuitive given that flies tend to lurk around dirty and grimy areas, but grooming is actually one of the most important fly behaviors. It gets rid of physical and chemical detritus, and clears out their smell receptors—all of which are essential for flying, finding food, searching for mates, and just about everything else that a fly does.
Flies don’t just rub their hands, either—they also rub their legs and wings. They do this for many of the same reasons as they rub their hands, but they also do it to protect their heads and eyes, clean their taste sensors, prepare for flight, detect obstacles in their environment, and dissipate heat.
Rub-rubbing is also a form of communication for flies. It creates vibrations that other flies can detect, and it’s how they communicate about food sources, mating opportunities, and potential dangers in their surroundings. Flies also rub their legs and wings together to create friction, which helps them keep warm in cold weather by generating heat from the friction.
Lastly, rubbing their hands or legs is how a fly brushes its feet to sense the ground and determine whether it’s safe for landing. The bottoms of a fly’s feet are covered in tiny hairs that help it detect the surface it’s landing on, and flies need to keep them clean for this reason.
This video collection exists to help teachers, librarians, and families spark kid wonder and curiosity about the natural world. The videos featured here are curated, kid-friendly, and independently-produced, unlike most YouTube content. We support the creators of this videos and the work that they do through our sustaining membership program. Learn more and become a member today!