The Meditation of a Fly

The Meditation of a FlyWhere am I? Why am I alone? Where are they? Someone’s coming! I need to go to the ceiling. It is 9-ft high and I need to go there very carefully. A human might catch me.

They can’t catch me. I am robust. One, two, three, fly!

My hind wings are modified into halteres which vibrate up and down with the wings. Ooops, I almost hit that lamp. It’s good that my halteres act as gyroscope. Halteres have a heavy knob which gives me a high level of inertia. Even when I immediately turned, my halteres continue to beat in exactly the same plane before. The turn in mid-light can be possible because of the forewings alone.

A fly can use at least 10% of the energy applied in each wing stroke for the next stroke. Flies are a complex flight system on earth, not a human can do.

Now I’m almost there. Extending my forelegs above my head will allow me to grab the ceiling with my feet. My momentum is ready for me to swing up or flop until my legs will firmly fasten on the ceiling. Good thing that I have gathered momentum during the entire flight. Humans thought we flip but we actually flap. My wings are now folded away and my body is under them. That man down there did not notice that I am an acrobat.

The hair on my feet, called tenent setae secretes very sticky substance that allows me to hold on to the ceiling upside down. This glue allows me to walk like this in an upside down manner. Let me take a stroll first. I can gracefully tiptoe here while waiting for that man down there to move out of this room.

There are four different techniques to walk up here. I can push away a foot from myself and pop the footpad away. My footpads can also be twisted until I lose them from the wall or just pull them quickly off the ceiling. The built-in claws on my feet are used to pull my footpads off the ceiling. All of those can be used at the same time and “peeling the pad” technique can be at the end as it requires less energy. This is easy for me as I am used to a more difficult peeling of my footpads on the ground, like alternating tripod. I can use all my 6 feet here, compared to using just 3 feet on the ground to save my energy.

The man is moving out of the room. Dropping away again is easy. I need first to hang on some feet, drop my wings, and then drop the rest of my body. Gravity is of big help this time. Maneuvering again is so simple because of my halteres. I will use my wings to flap. Rapid 90-degree turns, called saccades, are easy for me. It is too fast, even faster than a blink of a human eye. Thanks to my protein resilin, the elastic material on my wings that makes the drastic flap possible. It minimizes the energetic flight costs.

Now I need to see my family. They might as well been looking for me.

I am sorry for myself that humans consider us pests because we carry diseases. We don’t mean to do it. We don’t want you to get sick. It is just because of this sticky glue on our feet that we carry germs and diseases from things we walk on. It may be not helpful on your part but it is because of this that makes us survive.


Summers, A. 2006. Shoe Fly. Accessed March 11, 2011 from

Daven. How Flies Land on the Ceilin. 2011. Accessed March 11, 2011 from

Fly [image]. retrieved from


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