Why Do Flies Rub Their Hands Together?

So, why do flies rub their hands together? Suppose you’ve ever paid careful attention to a fly, particularly when it lands on your meal. In that case, you may have noticed that they often rub their hands together. This behavior is most noticeable just after the fly settles. But even though flying is quite easy, it does not often do so.

So, if a fly is sitting on food, what is it about it that causes it to rub its hands together?

In this article, we’ll find out the answer to that question.

So, let’s go!

What Does It Mean When Flies Rub Their Hands Together?

Here are some of the reasons why flies rub their hands together:

To Clean Themselves

The primary explanation for this behavior is that flies try to clean themselves as they rub their hands together.

Flies often have a filthy appearance due to their inclination to congregate in filthy and soiled environments. Flies, on the other hand, take great pride in their appearance. This is evident because they continually rub their hands together to clean themselves.

This does not necessarily imply that flies are filthy animals. This cleans their scent receptors and removes any physical or chemical debris. This improves their ability to fly, making it easier to locate food, find a partner, or attract one.

The common housefly, also known as Musca Domestica, is the species that best exemplifies the complete taxonomic classification of flies. Another method that this fly uses to clean itself is rubbing its hands together.

The cleaning procedure of this housefly and numerous other species is comprehensive, systematic, and successful. In fact, teachers educate elementary school students about personal cleanliness using the examples of flies!

It’s interesting to note that flies aren’t the only kind of bug that cleans themselves by rubbing their limbs together. During the cleaning procedure, many other insects also pay special attention to their antennae, as is the case with the ones we just mentioned.

Preparations for Takeoff and Landing

There is a logical relationship between the fly’s habit of rubbing its hands and legs before taking off, even though this behavior initially seems slightly strange. Flies may improve their flight planning and psychological preparation by rubbing their legs or hands. This helps the flies prepare for the trip. Here’s why it’s important:

Flies ensure that the hairs on their breast and limbs are in the best position for flight by rubbing their legs together. This helps the flies glide through the air with greater ease. For flies to maintain their equilibrium before they begin flight, they must be in the correct posture.

Their hair serves the function of a vestibular organ. Because the hair also guides them to the placement of their limbs, it enables them to control their flight better. Additionally, this helps them avoid collisions with obstacles.


How exactly does the simple act of touching their legs or hands, which afterward results in cleaning, assist flies in protecting their bodies?

To get rid of the hair that grows on their heads, flies curl their legs over their mouths and place them in front of their abdomens. The hair near the eye may deflect around 90 percent of the ventilation away from the eyes.

Flies spend much time grooming the hair on this area of their bodies since it is the most significant hair for protecting their bodies.

Why Do Flies Rub Their Faces?

Do you think that the only thing a fly ever does in its life is to spread filth and disease? However, when you observe flies rubbing their faces together, it is not because they are preparing their faces for battle. Rather, they are merely cleaning themselves up!

If you spent some time studying intently, as we did when a fly landed on us, you could see that little flies rub their forelimbs, wings, head, and rear legs too! So it’s a really specific process for clearing things up! They do this to clean the ever-present grime off their bodies, which are already quite unclean.

This is a maneuver that they use to clean the receptors and sensors on their bodies to determine whether or not the surface they have landed on is fit for consumption. We discussed many types of sensors and receptors during our conversation about flies.

These little insects go all over the planet using their wings and legs and pick up filthy objects from every imaginable surface. Hence, it would seem logical that they need to clean the dust off of themselves.

The cleanliness of a fly is of the utmost importance since flies cannot afford to have dirt on their hands or legs. That’s because the minute hairs on those parts of their bodies allow them to feel their environment and guide them in their search for food.

This comprehensive cleaning process of flies has even compelled the University of Arizona to consider these little species as a paradigm for cleanliness for kindergarten students.

Do Flies Clean Themselves?


Flies clean themselves by rubbing the horrible tiny claw things on their legs together. But, because they have a well-earned reputation for being naughty, mischievous rascals, this may come off as inappropriate.

However, flies depend on their “complex eyes,” antennae, and the bristles on their legs and bodies to feel their environment. Hence, they need to keep their bristles in good condition.

All these portions of their bodies, from their eyes to their toes, are called their “sense organs.” Consequently, they enable flies to locate food, avoid being eaten by predators, and generally maintain their own viability.

Because of this, we can rule out the possibility that they are unclean. And since flies are continuously landing on sh*t, dirt is something that they have to be concerned about.

Despite what you may believe, flies do not carry any disease and are quite clean. So even while it’s not ideal when they fall on our meals, it’s possible that it doesn’t do as much damage as we think.

They improve their survival chances by consistently removing the dirt on their claws. They also develop their senses to the point where they can settle on a surface and evaluate whether or not the food they are touching is something they can eat.

To put it another way, the fly’s ability to maintain a clean environment determines whether it will live or die.

Final Words – Why Do Flies Rub Their Hands Together?

What is the purpose of the behavior of flies rubbing their hands together? Now you know! They are obsessively clean because, if they aren’t, they won’t be able to tell what is healthy for them and what is harmful to them, and as a result, they would die. Flies rely on their legs and hand for cleanliness, and this rubbing behavior helps them achieve this goal.

Many fly species like fruit flies, house flies, and other fly species do this. However, whenever flies find food, their behavior will always differ from other flies.

Suppose you watch when a fly lands on its hind legs for a considerable time. In that case, you could notice that it rubs its hands (or legs) together or against another portion of its body. The primary reason for this behavior is so the fly can clean itself since flies are constantly coming into touch with filth and germs in their environment.

However, a fly may also do this to protect its head area and eyes and clean its taste receptors. In addition, also to prepare for flight, check for any injuries, or remove heat from its body.

Read Also: Do Cockroaches Fly?