Are there any seasoned members that can recommend approaches to successfully kill flies with only your bare hands. I am interested with solutions that can help me deal with pesky flies while they're temporarily stationary within arms reach.

  • 1
    From mid-air, or off a surface? The latter is easier, for the former, personally, I use a badminton raquet
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 14:43
  • 1
    Do you want to catch them with your own hands, but explicitly not kill them? IE do you want to release them after?
    – lharby
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 14:44
  • "No fly-killing device" could also include a butterfly net, or a clear plastic bag if you're sneaky enough. You said "bare hands" so I didn't include these as an answer, but I'm not completely clear if your focus is "no fly-killing device" or "bare hands". Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 17:30
  • Thank you for the comments. I'll update my question to outline that I mean just with my bare hands, whilst the fly is stationary within arms reach. Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 20:50

4 Answers 4


If you are happy to squish them, this is my technique.

I move my arm very slowly. Flies perceive human movements as slow in comparison to our own perception, so I tend to move at a glacial pace, so the fly does not detect my movements.

Once I am close enough I wait until the fly is cleaning its legs or eyes before I strike. If the fly stops cleaning it is either aware of me (or another external influence) or it is ready to move off.

Whilst the fly is cleaning I try and overreach, so if the fly is facing away from me, I will swat a few inches ahead of it in anticipation of it moving off, trying to make the move as rapid as possible. It doesn't always work, but I've killed some this way.

  • 1
    I've managed to harm three today, which is an improvement over none. Now it's time to improve my striking speed and coordination. Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 15:45
  • Unrelated, but you could also buy a citronella candle to keep flies at bay. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citronella_oil
    – lharby
    Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 15:51
  • I've had luck pacifying cockroaches with ACV. I'd spray a mist over them and then they begin to clean their antennas and I can approach and snatch them at my leisure. Sadly, I haven't found something as such for flies, yet. It would certainly improve my odds at striking them. Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 15:54
  • I think it helps a bit when you hit from the back of the fly
    – nelomad
    Commented Aug 10, 2016 at 16:40
  • A variation of this is to use your second hand as a distraction. It moves slow, but fast enough so the fly notices it rather than the glacial speed movement of your striking hand. Keep the distracting hand slow enough and far enough away so the fly doesn't spook. The fly watches the wrong hand until WHAM! I agree with others that it is easier to hit a non flying fly. I have also had luck with a badminton racket on flying insects like hornets. Commented Aug 21, 2016 at 10:54

Catching flies from the air is almost completely a matter of luck, in my experience.

If they're lifting off a surface, it helps to know that a housefly has to jump backward in order to lift off -- so at whatever point it becomes alarmed enough to fly, it'll move about a quarter inch (6 mm, give or take) to its rear as it leaves the surface. This can help either in swatting or catching, because you know in advance the first place it will go.

  • 1
    This has to be done with 2 hands. One hand moves to the fly's front threatening it up. The other hand eagerly waits in the fly's back waiting for it to lift up,
    – ott--
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 17:19
  • Nah, you can get 'em one-handed ;) I spent hours as a kid perfecting it. What you have to be aware of is that they are much faster on a hot day than a cold day, so you need to vary your 'approach & swipe' speed accordingly, otherwise you'll go straight over the top of a sleepy one on a cool morning.
    – Tetsujin
    Commented Jul 25, 2016 at 18:05
  • Thanks! I wasn't aware of how they take off. It's still happening too fast for me to notice what's actually going on. I'll have to find videos or take a good camera and observe their motions. Commented Jul 26, 2016 at 15:47

This probably isn't a complete duplicate, since you're looking for a way to kill flies with your bare hands. Anyways, try this approach I answered on another question about removing flies.


I would suggest you a method:

  • If you are totally fed up with a lot of them, try immersing your finger in sugar solution. Keep it open and thus trap most of them. Squeeze them up if you do not mind doing that. They will get stuck to your hands as sugar act some sort of glue here.
  • If you have a small number, wash your hands. Find them, kill them by clapping your wet hands. Wet hands will not allow them to escape.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.