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Diptera.info :: Miscellaneous :: General queries
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How does a fly land on the ceiling?
gardensafarinl
#1 Print Post
Posted on 20-06-2006 18:30
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Location: Arnhem, the Netherlands
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Got this weird question from one of the visitors to my website:

"How does a fly land on the ceiling. Does it make a looping, or does it suddenly turn in the air and then make a touch down (or should that be a touch up?)"

My first thoughts were: "what a stupid question". But the question was not that stupid, for I didn't have an answer. And lately the question started to nag me too. Anyone for an answer?

Thanks in advance,

Hans
 
http://www.gardensafari.nl
Tony Irwin
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Posted on 08-08-2006 21:49
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Hi Hans
High speed flash photography has shown that a fly (such as a housefly) will fly along in normal orientation under the ceiling, but with its front legs raised above its head. When the legs hook onto a suitable projection, the front part of the fly stops, but the rear part continues in a half-back-somersault, so the fly comes to rest upside-down and facing in the opposite direction.
There's a multi-flash picture of this action in Stephen Dalton's book "Borne on the Wind", which makes my explanation much clearer!Wink
Tony
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Tony Irwin
 
paqui
#3 Print Post
Posted on 13-08-2006 16:19
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wow, incredible Tony Grin
i thought they were able to fly upside-down (inverted), it was amazing
 
Kahis
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Posted on 13-08-2006 17:01
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paqui wrote:
i thought they were able to fly upside-down (inverted), it was amazing


I don't think insects can fly upside down - I simply cannot see how that would work. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
Kahis
 
www.iki.fi/kahanpaa
Tony Irwin
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Posted on 13-08-2006 17:50
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Kahis wrote: I don't think insects can fly upside down -

I don't think they do, at least not in a sustained way. Dalton has some pictures in his book that do show both lacewings and flies flying upside-down, but only as part of a take-off manouvre. I'm sure it is only for a brief time until they right themselves.
I tried to make it clear in my description of the house-fly ceiling manouvre, that it flies right-way-up, and only turns upside-down when landing.
[Actually insects flying upside-down I can cope with - it's watching helicopters flying upside down that really spooks me! Grin ]
Edited by Tony Irwin on 13-08-2006 17:52
Tony
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Tony Irwin
 
paqui
#6 Print Post
Posted on 14-08-2006 10:27
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your explanation was clear! sorry, i didn?t want to confuse, i just said before your post i had this only reference:
http://www.cals.n...ptera.html
go to "fact file"; i just wasn?t able to imagine how that was possible; your comment was really more reliable Smile

*edit: andwhat about flying backwards? Shock
Edited by paqui on 14-08-2006 10:37
 
Susan R Walter
#7 Print Post
Posted on 14-08-2006 12:38
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A lot of flies take off by jumping backwards, but I am not sure if they could sustain reverse with just wing action. I have a feeling dragonflies can fly backwards, which is presumably because they are the only insects that can operate all 4 wings independently.


Susan
 
http://loirenature.blogspot.com/
Tony Irwin
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Posted on 14-08-2006 14:56
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If you have the time and good fortune, it's worth spending half and hour watching a pipunculid flying (especially one of the small ones). Up, down, side to side, forwards, backwards, hovering - it's all apparently effortless, even in confined spaces among dense vegetation. They really have oustanding control (perhaps the big eyes help?).
Obviously this ability is really useful when searching out leafhopper hosts. They can do all their searching from the air, and are not exposed to the dangers of landing and searching on foot. Other parasitoids like ichneumons, braconids and tachinids do that, and must expose themselves to predatory risks in the process. The Hymenoptera have thick cuticles as protection, so I wonder whether the tachinds use their bristles (see
http://www.dipter...ad_id=2931) for protection against predators and/or parasites? Does anyone know, or are there other reasons to look so ridiculously spikey? Smile
Edited by Tony Irwin on 14-08-2006 15:01
Tony
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Tony Irwin
 
gardensafarinl
#9 Print Post
Posted on 18-08-2006 22:40
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Tony Irwin wrote:
Hi Hans
High speed flash photography has shown that a fly (such as a housefly) will fly along in normal orientation under the ceiling, but with its front legs raised above its head. When the legs hook onto a suitable projection, the front part of the fly stops, but the rear part continues in a half-back-somersault, so the fly comes to rest upside-down and facing in the opposite direction.
There's a multi-flash picture of this action in Stephen Dalton's book "Borne on the Wind", which makes my explanation much clearer!Wink


Dear Tony,

Thanks a lot for your answer. And don't worry, even without the photographs in the book, I can picture the landing in my mind. You have set my mind at peace at last. And that's great!

Cheers,

Hans
 
http://www.gardensafari.nl
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