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The Great Space Monkey Hoax, 1953
Female thieves hide money in their bras, 1950
Old-Time Photo Fakery, 1900 to 1919
The Hitler Diary Hoax, 1983
Mencken's fake history of the bathtub, 1917
Tourist Guy 9/11 Hoax, Sep 2001
Tube of liquor hidden in prohibition-era boot, 1920s
Did Poe say 'The best things in life make you sweaty'?
The Lovely Feejee Mermaid, 1842
Burger King's Left-Handed Whopper Hoax, 1998
Fake Fly in Urinal
Status: Strange, but apparently true.
A pair of images showing a urinal with a fake fly etched into the porcelain is doing the rounds. (I'd guess it's been circulating for at least two years.) The images are accompanied by this caption:

In Amsterdam, the tile under Schiphol's urinals would pass inspection in an operating room. But nobody notices. What everybody does notice is that each urinal has a fly in it. Look harder, and the fly turns into the black outline of a fly, etched into the porcelain. It improves the aim. If a man sees a fly, he aims at it. Fly-in-urinal research found that etchings reduce spillage by 80%. It gives a guy something to think about. That's the perfect example of process control.

Apparently this is true. Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam does sport fly urinals. (Though I'd be interested in getting first-hand verification of this.) The Straight Dope reports that New York's Kennedy airport is considering using the same fake-fly technology.

image image
Categories: Animals, Gross
Posted by The Curator on Tue Sep 20, 2005
Comments (39)
That is sooooo cool....they would keep trying to pee on it.....lol....I can appreciate the humor in that....
Posted by X  in  McKinney, TX  on  Tue Sep 20, 2005  at  06:25 PM
I went to college in Liverpool in the 1970s and the Victorian pubs had large stand up urinals with flies glazed under the porcelain. Maybe from about 1880s. Nothing new, huh?
Posted by matthew  in  UK  on  Tue Sep 20, 2005  at  07:12 PM
Well, I've been to Schiphol Airport, and I don't recall the tiles being all that clean, or there being flies in the urinals, either. But my last visit there was some years ago. It might have changed.
Posted by Big Gary in Dallas  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Tue Sep 20, 2005  at  07:29 PM
in germany, ive experienced urinals in several different places which have tiny goalposts and a football (sigh.... 'soccer ball') suspended from a thread. with careful aim the ball can be directed neatly into the goal. limitless fun...
Posted by Nick  in  Merrie Olde Englande  on  Tue Sep 20, 2005  at  07:31 PM
I just have to ask, why do men do these things anyway? I've seen guys do that and I think it's awfully weird.
Posted by Winona  in  USA  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  01:08 AM
Heh.. wha'ts next? little ceramic cigarette butts?
Posted by Bobcat  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  01:52 AM
I was in Schiphol last month, and the flies were there. I thought it was pretty clever...
Posted by Alastair  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  03:06 AM
Not only in Schiphol: I've seen the same model in several other places in Europe. Nearest to my home: the Woluwe Shopping Center in Brussels.
Posted by Enrique  in  Brussels  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  05:27 AM
At least 10 yrs old. Next!
Posted by Jerry S  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  06:00 AM
Why do men have such a problem getting it into the urinal?

I hear that cheerios does the same job.
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  07:57 AM
I
Posted by Beasjt  in  Earth  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  08:47 AM
I just mentioned this story to a friend of mine who's just been travelling round the US, and he says JFK already has these fly etchings. And he did indeed automatically aim at it.
Posted by Steevil  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  10:06 AM
Like a few people said before, this is old news. It's pretty commonly used on public urinals in a number of European countries.
Posted by Nathan  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  10:12 AM
its true, i live inn amsterdam and go regurlaly through the airport
Posted by jack  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  12:29 PM
It's definitely true, Schiphol Airport has these, for quite some time actually. As do many pubs here. And it works!

LaMa (the Netherlands)
Posted by LaMa  in  Europe  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  01:46 PM
I can confirm that Terminal 4 at JFK, the international air terminal does indeed have the fly in the urinals and has since it's opening a few years ago.
Posted by WileE  in  NYC  on  Wed Sep 21, 2005  at  06:23 PM
I think it
Posted by Tommy dry legs  on  Thu Sep 22, 2005  at  08:50 AM
Men..lol they never cease to amaze me, they still need something to amuse themselves with when they go to the bathroom. You wanna know what we WO men get? we get to read the writing on the walls, there's not much fly shootin goin on in the women's bathrooms hmmm
Posted by spazEabE  on  Thu Sep 22, 2005  at  05:03 PM
I've seen plenty such ceramic insects over the years (and I don't make a habit of going into the gents'). More to the point, I once read somewhere, I forget where, that the Victorians liked their cultured little jokes and originally printed bees on their urinals (apis in Latin).
Posted by sue  in  UK  on  Fri Sep 23, 2005  at  11:31 AM
Are you telling me this is not a common trick throughout the whole world? These fake flies are everywhere in Dutch toilets. Some are even accompanied by real flies. Haha!
Posted by Scheisse  in  Amsterdam  on  Fri Sep 23, 2005  at  10:25 PM
Not flies - bees. It's a pun:

The Latin for bee is apis.
Posted by Gordon Charlton  on  Sat Sep 24, 2005  at  05:10 AM
What's up with all the man hatin'? So some of us like to practice our penmanship, or create little flowers and circles when we tinkle. So what? I will sometimes clean the toilet of debris when I pee. Big deal. I do think the guy that invented the fly is a real whiz...
Posted by booch  on  Sun Sep 25, 2005  at  12:53 AM
I read of a similar device used in chamberpots and turn-of-the-last-century urinals. The only difference was they had a tiny bee rather than a fly painted on them. Such bees were known as 'aiming bees.' They were occasionally referred to as 'apis' (pronounced in the French manner). You may draw your own conclusions.
Posted by Xtine  in  Sunny Subtropical Sarcastic Detroit, MI  on  Sun Sep 25, 2005  at  02:34 AM
Munich airport has these as well.
Posted by Colin  on  Mon Sep 26, 2005  at  08:35 AM
I've seen the flies at Schiphol too, and some urinals in the US have Hanoi Jane urinal targets:

Posted by Eivind  on  Mon Sep 26, 2005  at  09:56 AM
In Spain there are aiming SPIDERS in many public urinals and toilets. No flys or bees.

I got scared almost every time I saw one.
And until now I didn't know exactly why that sticker was there.
Posted by Fred  on  Tue Sep 27, 2005  at  01:40 AM
At work we just got some "waterless urinals" in a new bathroom, and they all have little bees in them. Would work just as well with pictures of managers. smile
Posted by David  on  Mon Oct 31, 2005  at  03:42 AM
I used to use urinals like this a lot a few years ago - I was well trained: 96% accuracy. Problem is, now every time I see a fly I have an overwhelming urge to piss on it! Oh the embarrasment! I'll never be invited to a picnic again!
Posted by Anton  in  Australia  on  Sun Nov 13, 2005  at  12:57 AM
Waterless Co., Vista CA--the manufactures of the No-Flush waterless urinal also manufactures urinals with a fly etched in the vitreous china urinals
Posted by Jack Koenig  in  Vista, CA 92081  on  Wed Feb 15, 2006  at  11:04 AM
Who manufacture these fake urinal flies. where can I get hold of the company. I was in Schipol Airport June 2005 and took some photographs of these "flies" The men tried to close their fly's as quickly as possible, since they thought I was some sort of pervert. They were very relieved when i told them it was for a research project.
Posted by Deks Dekenah  in  Cape Town South Africa  on  Sat Mar 04, 2006  at  02:47 AM
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