Kill a Fly With Rubber Bands




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 ...

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.



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    20 Discussions

    It is also addictive. I see you are an art teacher. I taught confirmation classes to 14 year olds. They enjoyed watching me kill a pesky fly or two while presenting the lesson. They also learned to kill flies. A few practice shots will help, too. Thanks for looking.

    We have a Makita 7.2 volt portable vacuum that we use to dispose of any fly or spider in the house. It's amazing that you can sneak up on them and vacuum them up before they know what happened. The nice part is there is no mess. I guess that "Thou shall not kill" does not apply here. :-)

    Thanks for the idea. I do not have a battery vacuum, but it sounds interesting. It is too bad most people remember the commandment as "Thou shalt not kill." The Hebrew word used in the original text carries the idea of premeditated murder and is different from a more general word for killing, as in battle, etc. (If you have used Bible study tools based on Strong's Numbers, the word is #7523. There are tools on-line that will key to Strong's Numbers and you can do a lot of checking without buying books.) I tried to do some reading on how it became "Thou shalt not kill." and do not remember the particulars, other than some connection to usage and attitudes in England at the time the King James Version was produced. Anyway, modern English translations are using the phrase, "You shall not murder," which does not create unnecessary conscience problems for people in the military or law enforcement people, or people in the prison system, all of whom may be called upon to take the life of another for valid reasons.

    I know you did not seriously think of killing flies in relation to the commandment, but it will be helpful to all reading here to have an alert to the actual intent of the commandment. 

    Thanks for the additional information in regards to the commandment, it is appreciated! Unfortunately, this is one subject in which I have little knowledge of, so I thank you for broadening my understanding.


    Done and done. I used this technique with a couple of produce rubber bands because it was what I had on hand. Worked like a champ!

    1 reply

    Thank you for the endorsement and the report. I am a fan of using what one already has whenever possible. Your produce rubber bands were made by the lowest bidder and may possibly snap before their time.

    Wow! Thanks Phil! I was helping make thank you gifts for The Coldwater Ontario Steampunk Festival (This Saturday, August 10th, 2013- all are very welcome-it's going to be fun!) and the blasted flies were everywhere. We were working in a bead store, and we only had a fly swatter...results...think beads flying everywhere while the nasty flies dodged the swatter, and sweet little old church lady volunteers cursed them. We are getting together tomorrow evening, but... I will be bringing a bag of elastics with me. Mwah hah hah!

    1 reply


    Thank you for your comment. The good ladies may need a little instruction and practice. Common faults are not pulling the bands taught enough, getting into a hurry and not taking time to aim well, forgetting to lower the near thumb to compensate for band climb on release, and jerking one or both hands on release. I hope your event is a big success.

    That's awesome and more predictable than the way I use. I shoot the band off from my index finger and sight it like a rifle. The band jump is usually compensated by gravity with the method I use, but you have the potential of loosing the rubber band. I'm going to have to give your way a try!

    2 replies

    Thank you for looking. This method can be quite deadly. If you have a whole room full of flies, fatigue sets in and it is easy to get sloppy, which leads to misses.

    I use a single band but the action is the same.
    Every time I similarly dispose of  a fly that asked for it !

    I'm reminded of a hilarious skit about
    Albert Schweitzer, reverence for life  and
    a most annoying American female tourist.

    This brings back memories. As a young person I worked in a tire warehouse with a loading dock door that was always open. When we were done with the work and waiting for customers we passed the time killing flies using your method. A fly safari!

    1 reply

    It is not original with me. A guy in my college dormitory showed me how to do this. I put this method aside when the electronic fly swatters became available, but still use it occasionally. Thank you for your comment.

    When I was at work I used that method, it is very fun. Even ceiling flies are hitted using rubber bands, shooting them.

    1 reply

    It is fun. Hitting flies on a ceiling works pretty well, if the ceiling is not too high above the floor. Sometimes it is easy to get a little vertigo from looking up. That makes the aim more difficult, especially if I have been killing a lot of flies. (In the summer our church had a week of Bible school for children. During that week people often left the back door to the basement open. The neighbor had pens with horses just a few meters away. Many flies from the horses came into our basement and the flies loved to perch on the white ceiling. The week after Bible school I killed many, many flies on the ceiling.)