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melanie81's avatar

Do flies take a crap every 30 seconds?

Asked by melanie81 (792points) February 2nd, 2009

When I was little, one of my friend’s dads told me that flies are crapping all the time while they fly. I think he was just trying to freak me out, because we were having an outdoor BBQ and there were lots of flies around.

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14 Answers

Grisson's avatar

Yes, it’s an average 27.3 seconds to be exact. Boeing funded a study of this while designing in-flight toilets, so there was not actually any taxpayer money used.

Kidding… I’m one of those Dads that make stuff up just for fun. But I came by it honestly. My Dad told me the Clamshell house west of Denver (in Woody Allen’s ‘Sleeper’) rotated to face the sun. I believed it for decades. My kids thought it was hilarious when I got caught out at my own game.

asmonet's avatar

I googled, and found nothing. I think he was just joshin’.

Grisson's avatar

@asmonet About the clamshell house? You bet. He fessed up when I tried to pass that tidbit of info on to my kids. They thought that was hilarious!

nikipedia's avatar

No way dude. Digestion is rate-limited by enzymes and other related chemicals.

RandomMrdan's avatar

I’ve heard that every time a fly lands on something, it is either crapping, sleeping, or eating….I’ve never heard that crapping during flight sort of thing though.

Grisson's avatar

@nikipedia That doesn’t disprove it. Yes, digestion takes time, but that doesn’t mean a fly couldn’t micro-crap ever 30 seconds. If they have a (relatively) long digestive tract and no space for storage, they’d have to go pretty often.

Do I get credit for coining the term ‘micro-crap’?

nikipedia's avatar

I mean, they’d have to be eating pretty constantly. I don’t know. I’ve spent a lot of time with flies and never seen them crap. Unlike rats, who crap pretty much nonstop, in clear defiance of the principle I just described.

Grisson's avatar

@nikipedia Well, they’re rats. They probably don’t know any better. ;o)

imhellokitty's avatar

that’s a crappy question.

Harp's avatar

Believe it or not, there’s research (?!)

From the book “The House Fly, Disease Carrier” (sorry folks, out of print):

“Curiously enough, few exact observations have been made upon the frequency with which the fly deposits its excreta. Major N. Faichnie, previously referred to, working in India, found that when a fly is put in a clean paper box it passes its excrement fifty times in twenty-four hours; that is to say, about once every half hour; but he neglects to state whether there was food in the box. Presumably there was some food, and also presumably there was not much of a semi-liquid character. Cobb (1910) gives a table of the intervals between defecation of a well-fed fly, together with notes on the spores in the excreta. One naturally infers, from the title of the article, that the fly in question was a house fly, but upon consulting an important paper by the same author (1906), entitled “Fungous Maladies of the Sugar Cane,” the same table is found printed on page 64 and the fly in question is said to be a Sarcophagid, and therefore not Musca domcstica. In his opening paragraph in the 1910 article, Doctor Cobb explains, “In some of these paragraphs, however, the statements are inferences fully justified by experiments with very similar species,” and this table is evidently one of these inferential statements. It is not safe to state that because, as shown in the table, a well-fed Sarcophagid fly will defecate on the average once every four and one-half minutes, from half past nine until half past eleven, a true Musca will do the same. It is by no means impossible that it will do so, but unfortunately we have not the proof. Still with this explanation it will be interesting to state that in the interval between 9: 35 and 11:26 the fly observed by Doctor Cobb (it had been fed at 9: 23) made twenty-three fly-specks at intervals varying from one to fifteen minutes, an average of about four and one-half minutes.”

So every 30 seconds doesn’t sound accurate, no.

Zaku's avatar

Aw, Harp beat me too it by a minute or two, or er, several fly poops.

My offering was inferior anyway (as you’d need to pay a fee to get the detailed info to answer the question), but still:
Influence of diet composition on meal size and rate of excretion of the tsetse fly Glossina palpalis palpalis

“The rate of excretion was highly correlated with the meal size, regardless of the diet composition.”

Grisson's avatar

What I find amazing is the amount of information out there about fly poop, and the amount of effort actually expended finding it!

Zaku's avatar

@Grisson – The truth is out there. We must know! ;-)

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