Science Says: Swatting Fruit Flies Is Annoying Because They’re Basically Tiny Fighter Jets

Goose and Maverick, meet your competition.

Goose and Maverick, meet your competition.

As proven time and time again after you leave those bananas on the counter for too long, the grasping meathooks we call hands are basically ineffective when faced with the ever elusive fruit fly. But don’t feel bad, it’s not just your giant, clumsy hamfists, it’s that fruit flies are basically mini fighter jets. And they’re all named Maverick or Goose, obviously.

While I can’t speak to actual fruit fly naming conventions, scientists are behind this new idea that says fruit flies are so damnably missable because they’re evading swats by banking the same way fighter jets do, reports the Los Angeles Times.

According to findings published in the journal Science, when researchers put the bugs through their paces by firing lasers at them, the fruit flies would make incredibly sharp turns to avoid getting hit. The flies would turn at a speed faster than five times their normal speed when trying to avoid a threat, said researchers.

But instead of just going right or left, the flies execute superfast banked turns by rolling and pitching their bodies at the same time. The little buggers can do one of those within less than one hundredth of a second after registering a threat — 50 times faster than the blink of an eye, say scientists.

And those sweet moves could shine light into the inner life of fruit flies (Do they binge watch TV like us? What’s the most attractive rotting fruit?).

“The insects turn because they have some internal control circuitry, just like a pilot [who’s] turning a plane,” said one physicist who wasn’t involved in the research. “And by looking how the insects turn, we might be able to say what the ‘pilot’ is thinking.”

Rest easy, my sausage-fingered friends. And just make sure you toss that banana before the entire cast of Top Gun shows up.

Fruit flies make blazing fast turns like fighter jets, study says [Los Angeles Times]

You can follow MBQ on Twitter where she may ask for other ways to describe fat fingers and is always grateful for your helpful responses (you know who you are): @marybethquirk

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.