Flies seem to take grooming seriously, as evidenced by their constant rubbing of their front limbs—or legs, technically. The rubbing gets rid of physical and chemical detritus, and it helps clear up their smell receptors—a necessity for flying, finding food and courting mates.
Their legs and wings also help them taste food. Keep reading to learn more about why flies rub their hands together.
They’re cleaning themselves
Flies are notorious for their dirty little claw-things, but rubbing them together to clean themselves is actually a pretty normal fly behavior. Because they rely on their eyes, antennae, and the bristles on both their legs and bodies to sense the world around them, it’s important for them to keep them clean.
The rubbing action cleans away both physical and chemical debris that can interfere with the functions of these important body parts. It also helps clear the odor receptors on their feet and palps, which is what they use to smell food. Flies can get very dirty while walking around, especially if they land on something that’s teeming with bacteria.
Similarly, the rubbing motion also removes any toxins that might be present on their legs. This is especially important for the two front legs that are used to hold themselves up while walking, since those can become tainted with anything they pick up. In fact, if a fly’s legs get too dirty, it can affect its ability to walk at all.
In addition to cleaning, rubbing the legs and antennae also helps a fly groom itself. This can involve licking one of the pair of appendages or touching them against each other, and it helps the fly to determine how ready their limbs are for flying, fighting, or otherwise interacting with the environment. The rubbing also creates vibrations that other flies can hear, which allows them to communicate with each other about food sources, mating opportunities, and potential dangers in the area.
When a fly sees another fly nearby, it may rub its front legs or feet together to let that fly know it’s there. This is not a sign of aggression, however, as the fly does not want to annoy the other fly by causing a disturbance. Rather, the fly wants to ensure that it’s in the same place as the other fly, so it can find the same food or mate. Flies also rub their legs or arms together to cool themselves down. Rubbing their limbs helps them dissipate heat and prevent overheating, which can be deadly to these insects.
They’re tasting food
Flies come into contact with all sorts of bacteria and germs throughout the day, so hygiene is a matter of life or death for them. This is why a fly will rub its legs (it doesn’t really have hands) together frequently. This is a way to clean itself, discard anything that could alter its sense of smell, taste or touch and prepare itself for flying.
It is also important for a fly to be able to detect the various flavors of food, especially when it’s looking for a meal. To do this, the fly’s front legs are rubbed against food surfaces. This gives the fly a better sense of the flavor of the food and helps it determine whether or not it’s edible.
If a fly is trying to eat something hard, it will walk all over the food and then rub its front legs. This is because it’s difficult for a fly to eat solid food, so it has to find a soft area of the food or one that’s begun to rot. After a while, the fly will vomit saliva on a specific area of the food in order to liquefy it.
Another reason why a fly will rub its legs is to clear away any scents that may be on it. Flies can be drawn to the smells of watermelon, waste, defecations and refuse dumps, so it’s vital that they can remove these scents from their bodies before they start looking for food.
This is a complex issue for a fly, as there are many reasons why flies rub their hands together, including cleaning themselves, tasting food, communicating with other flies and keeping warm. But if you’re still not convinced, there are many other explanations as to why a fly will rub its hands together – some more strange than others. For example, it might be that a fly is preparing itself psychologically to fly, or it might just be cleaning up and getting rid of any old odors. However, these are not the only reasons why a fly might rub its hands.
Flies have a pair of appendages on the front of their bodies that look like hands, and they rub these “hands” together often. This behavior seems a bit strange to humans, but it has several important purposes: cleaning themselves, sensing smells and tasting food, grooming themselves, communicating with other flies, and cooling down.
When a fly lands on a surface, it will usually rub its “hands” together to clean off any particles from the last item it touched. This will also help the fly see better, as any dirt or debris on its legs could interfere with its sensors and make it hard for them to sense their surroundings.
The rubbing of a fly’s legs can also help it to avoid obstacles in its path. As the insect rubs its legs together, it creates vibrations that will alert it to any walls or other objects in its way. The fly can then take steps to move around them, or change its course altogether if necessary.
Many people think that flies rub their “hands” together because they are trying to communicate with each other. While this may be true in some cases, it is usually just a way for the insects to clean themselves. Flies also use this behavior to signal other flies that they are nearby, and the vibrations created by rubbing the legs together can help the fly to communicate about potential food sources and mates in its vicinity.
Flies have a soft, sponge-like mouth that allows them to suck up liquids and other substances from their environment. They enjoy feeding on sweat, sugars, salts, proteins, carbohydrates, fats, oils, and other chemicals found in the skin of human beings. Flies also feed on excrement from animals and other small organisms.
Because of these unique characteristics, flies are very common pests in homes and workplaces around the world. Good sanitation habits can help to keep a home free of these pesky insects, including regularly emptying sticky traps in the kitchen and making sure all garbage cans have tight-fitting lids. Homeowners should also keep pet food dishes covered when not in use, mow lawns regularly, trim back shrubs away from windowsills and doors, and seal off drains to prevent flies from entering.
They’re keeping warm
We’ve all seen it – that dreaded moment when a fly lands on a surface, stays perfectly still, and then begins to rub its “hands” together like some sort of comic book super villain with devious plans for world domination. But while flies might look like evil doers, it’s actually a sign that they are cleaning themselves!
As they walk around, flies pick up tiny particles of everything they touch, so it’s no surprise that they need to clean their legs regularly. Rubbing them together eliminates the dirt and other materials that could change their sensors, which are crucial for detecting things like food, water, and other potential threats.
The same process helps keep their legs warm, as well. As they rub their limbs together, the friction generates heat that helps them stay comfortable in cold temperatures.
In addition to helping them keep clean and sensing their surroundings, rubbing their hands also helps flies communicate with one another. They create a sound by rubbing their front legs together, which other flies can hear and interpret, telling them about food sources, mating opportunities, and other potential dangers in the environment.
Flies aren’t the only insect to engage in this behavior; many insects, including bees and butterflies, rub their limbs together to keep them clean and in good working order. This can help them determine if their wings and legs are ready to be used for flying, fighting, or any other activity, and it can also indicate whether an injury has occurred.
So next time you see a fly rubbing its legs together, don’t be alarmed! It’s not some secret plot to take over the world – it’s just a little way for them to clean themselves, taste their food, communicate with other flies, and stay warm.