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Nobody expects tiny insects that dwell in filth to demonstrate remarkable abilities, but as everyone knows from experience, house flies have an astounding ability to escape the deadly impact of fly swatters and rolled up newspapers. Somehow, house flies seem to have the ability to anticipate swats, as though the insect pests possess 360 degree vision, or a precognitive power. As it happens, a house fly’s ability to escape to safety before being swatted is a topic that has been thoroughly researched. Apparently, house flies perceive movements more slowly than humans. So no matter how fast a person’s swats may be, house flies see approaching fly swatters in slow motion, allowing the insects plenty of time to escape to safety.

When compared to humans, house flies see the world in slow motion, while other species, such as turtles, perceive time in…..fast-motion. In order to illustrate this phenomenon, experts often refer to how flies, humans and turtles perceive the movements of a second hand ticking on a clock. For example, turtles perceive each movement of a second hand twice as fast as humans do, but flies perceive each movement of a second hand four times more slowly than humans. To humans, and all animals, the world appears to be moving in a fluid and uninterrupted manner, but much like single frames of a video, the world is actually perceived as a series of rapid still flashes. According to researchers, humans perceive 60 flashes per second, turtles perceive 15 flashes per second, but house flies perceive 250 flashes per second. The speed at which these flashes are processed by the brain is known as the “flicker fusion rate,” and the smaller the animal, the slower movements are perceived. This is why it often seems impossible to successfully swat a fly, and in the rare cases when humans do succeed in swatting a fly, it can only be assumed that the dead fly definitely dropped the ball.

Do you find yourself swatting flies in your home every summer?