Bizarre pastime – a fly trick

There is often time for a little conversation and  the showing of a trick or two after dinner, so that the following experiment may prove interesting and useful to many readers. It would be best to first introduce flies into the conversation by saying what a nuisance they are, or something equally simple, and then at a suitable opening ask if anyone present has seen a fly – a common house-fly – empty a box of matches. The answer will undoubtedly be in the negative. However, a fly can be made to do so. Having caught one alive, carefully hold it by both wings over a box of matches from which the lid has been removed, so that it can touch a match with its legs. It will immediately cling to the match in its endeavour to walk, and fly and match can be lifted up. The match can now be pulled from off the fly’s feet and the fly lowered to another match, to which it will at once cling. Having caused the fly to lift out two or three matches, it could readily be seen that, if necessary, it would remove them all; and so the fly could then be released, and would not be long in disappearing — no doubt to a quiet corner to think the matter over! (From The Strand magazine, 1909)

All of this is simply priceless: the universal presence of flies to be caught for the experiment, the casual introduction of the topic, the handling of the little vermin…

Previous post:

Next post: