Myth Buster: Can Bags of Water Repel Flies?

Flies, with their loud, annoying wings and ability to seek out your food and drinks are a nuisance to all. Many people have tried and many people have failed to keep the pesky insects away. One such method involves hanging clear plastic bags of water in areas that you would like to keep fly-free. Most people would dismiss this immediately, thinking that there is no way that a simple liquid filled plastic bag is enough to rid your surroundings of flies. But there might actually be some science backing this claim. Flies have compound eyes that cause the insect to see in a mosaic like fashion. When light enters the water, it is refracted and scattered. When this altered light enters the fly’s eyes, it could cause the fly to become disoriented. 

Although the science backing water filled bags seems sound, real world testing has proved otherwise. On the television show entitled “MythBusters”, an extremely decisive test was performed. A large rectangular box was divided into three sections, with both the left and right sections containing pieces of rotting meat to attract the flies. Only the leftmost section contained the bag of water. Around 500 flies were released into the container and left for one hour. After the hour was up, the sections were sealed off from one another and the flies were left to die. Once the flies had dropped like, well, flies, they were weighed. Surprisingly, the weight of the flies in the section with the bag of water was 50% greater than that of the section without the water, translating to more flies in that section. In conclusion, water filled bags may seem like a surefire way to keep flies away, but in reality, you are better off just sticking to a trusty fly swatter.

by Ryan Roco

photo: iStockphoto

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