How to get away with murder

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When a person is harmless, people say things like “Oh, she wouldn’t hurt a fly!” Around here, no one says that about me. They’ve seen me in action, and they know – I’m a stone-cold fly killer.

I don’t feel bad about it, and I’m willing to share the secrets of my fly-killing success. Why? Because spring is here, and the weather is finally warming. We’ll raise the windows or linger at an open door. We’ll come and go more often as we enjoy the sunshine, and uninvited flies will sneak inside.

Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to make sure those flies meet the business end of a fly swatter.

Step 1: Know your enemy. If you can’t stand the thought of violence against unwelcome insects, go ahead and try to catch a housefly and set him free outside. Or you could wait for the fly to die a natural death at the end of his life cycle, which takes around 25 days. But in the meantime? That fly will be doing some super nasty stuff inside your house.

Houseflies don’t chew, so they must drink their food. That means that when they land on something, they vomit on it and let the enzymes in the puke begin to liquify the food so they can lap it up.

Grossed out yet? Wait, there’s more. Flies also poop pretty much all the time. (Those liquid meals fly right through them.) So when you see a fly land, rest assured he is both puking and pooping on each landing spot.

Not only that, female flies lay up to 900 eggs during their 25-day lifespan. Poop, puke, and egg larvae? No thanks. Flies also spread diseases including dysentery, typhoid fever, food poisoning, cholera, and tuberculosis – all of which have been known to ruin a weekend.

Step 2: Choose your weapon. The Internet is full of ideas on the best weapon to use against flies. Some people say any household cleaner containing vinegar in a spray bottle will do the trick. Some say cayenne pepper mixed with water works.

As for me and my house, we shall smack ‘em dead. I have a cheap plastic flyswatter that lives on top of our fridge, so it’s always ready to grab and go. I like the satisfying “thwack” sound it makes on contact.

Step 3: Slowly get closer. The most common mistake people make when fly hunting is too much movement. Flies have these crazy, multi-faceted eyes designed to detect movement much better than human eyes. So it’s important not to come at the thing flailing your arms with swatter in hand. They’ll poop, puke, and zip away before you can blink.

Approach like a cat, silent and slow, being careful not to move too much air as you creep toward it. Then slowly move your arm into place and stop when you get to less than an arm’s distance away. Closer is better. Then freeze right there, never taking your eye off the target.

Step 4: Smack it hard and fast. Now, strike! Quick as lightning, slam your swatter down on that nasty little bugger!

Will things get bloody? It’s possible. War is messy, my friends. Have a paper towel and a bottle of spray cleaner at the ready.

Step 5: Glory in your victory. You got him! He messed with the bull, and he got the horns. You’ve ended his reign of buzzing terror. You came, you saw, you smacked. Mission accomplished.

Now it’s time to brag to everyone who saw your ninja skills in action. I recommend adopting an intimidating nickname (like “One-Shot Rockwood”) so word will spread in the fly community about how lethal you are with a dollar-store swatter.

Here’s hoping we all enjoy a lovely spring season bursting with blooms, vivid green grass, and warm, gentle breezes. And if a fly happens to catch a breeze into your house, now you know how to get away with murder.

Gwen Rockwood is a syndicated freelance columnist. Email her at Her book is available at Amazon. 

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