Introduction: Kill a Fly With Rubber Bands

About: I miss the days when magazines like Popular Mechanics had all sorts of DIY projects for making and repairing just about everything. I am enjoying posting things I have learned and done since I got my first to…

There are some places a fly swatter does not reach well, like a narrow space between two objects or on the corner of a table. Sometimes you wish to kill a fly that seldom lands on something. When it does light, it may settle on something where a swatter is really not an option. For times like those a surgically precise strike with a rubber band fly killer is ideal. 

Pictured is a fly that settled on the side or a vertical roll of paper towels located on a table in a restaurant as napkins. I probably would not kill a fly in a restaurant, but a fly swatter would not have worked well in this situation. Chances are, the swat would have knocked over the roll of paper towels, which would have knocked over other things on the table and made a big mess. But, a rubber band fly killer would have made the job easy, quick, and precise. 

Step 1: What Bands to Use

Two #64 rubber bands (1/4 x 3 1/2 inches) are ideal, although similar 1/8 inch sizes will also work well. 

Step 2: Join the Bands

Loop two bands together end-to-end as shown in the photo. This is also known as a square knot.

The rubber band fly killer works best if the rubber bands are new. Several times I had aimed and drew my fly killer ready to strike when one of the rubber bands snapped because it was old and deteriorated. The fly usually escapes in those situations.

Step 3: Prepare to Aim

It has always surprised me that flies allow me to come very close to them with a hand holding the end of a rubber band and do not fly away. Move slowly. I can get my hand within about four to five inches of the fly very easily. That is a very good distance for killing a fly. (This photo uses a fake fly cut from a piece of licorice candy for illustration purposes. Also, my hand is much closer than four to five inches as mentioned in the text.)

Pull straight back with the hand near the camera until the bands are reasonably tight. The distance between both of your hands will be about 12 to 14 inches.

Look straight down the rubber bands as you would down the barrel of a rifle and aim directly at the fly, but do not release the rubber bands, yet.

Step 4: Adjust for Band Climb

If you release the rubber band fly killer from the hand near the camera as shown in the previous photo, the bands will climb in a slight arc and you will miss the fly. Without any jerky motions, smoothly move the hand nearer to the fly an inch or so toward the base of the thumb. 

Step 5: Release

Without jerking, smoothly release your grip on the rubber band at your rearward hand. Do not move the hand in the forward position during the release at all, but keep it very steady. The band will hit the fly and kill it instantly.

My licorice fly is visible in the background. Had it been a real fly and I released the rubber band, the fly or pieces of it would be outside the viewing area of the photo.

Step 6: Pick Up the Pieces

I came to call this method for killing flies "rearranging their molecular structure." Sometimes you can kill a fly with rubber bands and the fly will remain in one piece. More often there will be pieces of the fly in several places. Get a piece of tissue and clean up the pieces. In view of this, consider where debris from the fly may land before killing a fly this way. Carefully done, I have taken out a fly perched on the rim of a bowl without any part of the fly or the rubber band coming into contact with the food in the bowl. Many times, though, it is better to shoo the fly away and watch for it to land someplace safer before killing it. 

Not only is this an effective way to kill flies, but it is fun because you compete with yourself to improve your rubber band marksmanship. It becomes a challenge to see if you can improve your ratio of kills per rubber band releases.

The photo shows the approximate portion of the rubber band that will contact the fly if done as I have described. That leaves a portion of the rubber band's end relatively "clean" for gripping while killing flies this way. 

Although my wife thinks this method for killing flies is disgusting, there have been times when a fly was irritating her and she knew a swatter would not reach it. At those times she has called on me to kill it with my rubber bands.