The Museum of Hoaxes
hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive hoax archive
Van Gogh's ear exhibited, 1935
Dead Body of Loch Ness Monster Found, 1972
The Great Space Monkey Hoax, 1953
Monkeys pick cotton, a 19th-century urban legend
Snowball the Monster Cat, 2000
Princess Caraboo, servant girl who became a princess, 1817
The Crown Prince Regent of Thulia, 1954
war of the worlds
The night Martians invaded New Jersey, 1938
The Nazi Air Marker Hoax, 1942
The boy with the golden tooth, 1593
Trained Flies
Status: Undetermined
image Posted on YouTube: a Japanese video of trained flies (actually they don't look like flies to me... maybe wasps or bees). They roll on their back and then juggle a ball on their legs. While it may be possible to train goldfish, I don't think it's possible to train flies. (Though, as one person on Digg pointed out, in laboratory experiments flies have been shown to be capable of learning.) My guess is that they've been drugged. This would account for them rolling over. Juggling the ball between their legs is probably a reflex action. (via Neatorama)
Categories: Animals
Posted by The Curator on Tue Jul 18, 2006
Comments (20)

They are certainly horse flies.
Here there are two wonderful images:

I don't know how the trick is done but perhaps he put them in a freezer for some minutes. Insects become letargic when refrigerated. I agree that juggling the ball is a reflex action. Perhaps they are glued to the table!
Posted by Julius  in  Italy  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  04:12 AM
Yeah, you can tell a fly by its face, even though they often disguise themselves as wasps so you won't squish them.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  05:34 AM
And I think he flipped them upside-down with a small magnet.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  05:36 AM
Yeah, you can tell a fly by its face, even though they often disguise themselves as wasps so you won't squish them... BAHAHAHAHAHA!

And I think he flipped them upside-down with a small magnet... BAHAHHAHAHAHA!...oh, I get it. Small magnets. Horse flies. Made them swallow miniature horse shoes so the magnets would have something to work with (cause last time I checked, no part of a horse fly was magnetic)...

You people are KILLIN' me, I'm tellin' ya!...
Posted by Christopher  in  Joplin, Missouri  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  07:14 AM
I'm sure flies could be trained to do something or other-- even flatworms can be trained to run simple mazes-- but to juggle balls? I agree that it's got to be a reflex action.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Glen Ellyn, Illinois  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  10:28 AM
It could be down to the hand movement.

If you spiral* in on a fly on a wall, they stay there.

You do wind up with your finger very close to a fly wondering what now, but that may be fun for some.

Perhaps circular movement gives strange results for compound eyes?


*Oh alright it's a concentric helix
Posted by Peter  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  11:50 AM
Well if they can train flies to do <a >this</a>...
Posted by StarLizard  in  Quebec, Canada  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  12:45 PM
I agree with Alex and the comments above, definately looks like a hoax. Something used to sedate the flies and then it's a reflex action.

StarLizard, i think you misread the article you posted. The wasps are not trained, it's that the machine can detect a change in their movements/behavior once they detect a certain odor. But still quite interesting...

...and i hate bugs confused
Posted by Grain  in  Bay Area, CA  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  01:21 PM
oops, maybe i read the article too fast. i guess they are actually trained. sorry StarLizard.. LOL
Posted by Grain  in  Bay Area, CA  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  01:26 PM
No sweat Grain wink
And I LOVE bugs.
Well most of the time anyway.
Posted by StarLizard  in  Quebec, Canada  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  02:23 PM
no I don't they are under the influence of any sedative. I heard somewhere that it's a survival reaction for flies when they see a large object coming toward them they

A) Fly away

B) use their second defence (also found in goats) the brain freezes up for 1-7 seconds (subconciously, they have no control over it) in which giving the look that they have suddenly rolled over and died

looks like this person has mastered the direction to come at them in which they panic and go straight to plan B

As for the juggling, it's a reflex, the brain kicking back in or just simply trying to get up

but I've never seen a fly do plan B so It's probably a theory
Posted by Blood For Nothing  in  Somewhere in the Arctic  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  05:44 PM
I agree the people who say the flies haven't been drugged...I used sedated flies in my lab and they're pretty useless, they just fall over and twitch. But the "juggling" could definitely be some sort of reaction (I just don't know how the guy gets the flies to roll over in the first place).
Posted by Lydie  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  10:16 PM
Christopher, I was suggesting a small earth-magnet glued to the bottom of the fly, or even just some kind of metallic paint applied to them.
Posted by Citizen Premier  in  spite of public outcry  on  Tue Jul 18, 2006  at  10:50 PM
Damn! I thought it was a reference to the "goldfish in formation" post about the fish having magnets to keep them in place! I thought you were making a joke! Noooooooo!
Posted by Soldant  on  Wed Jul 19, 2006  at  06:53 AM
I once had an aquarium snail that would come to the edge of the water when I fed my goldfish. The snail would pull back his little face from the glass and let me drop little chunks of fish flakes down his gullet. You could see the stuff working its way down his gut. I never did get him to juggle his balls between his legs, tho. Mainly because snails don't have balls. Or legs
Posted by Hairy Houdini  on  Wed Jul 19, 2006  at  01:16 PM
Alex, surely you're aware of flea circuses. One can really train fleas to (for instance) jump through a hoop or pull a tiny cart.

Why not flies?
Posted by Carl Fink  on  Wed Jul 19, 2006  at  09:39 PM
My husband is an entomologist and said after seeing the film that the flies were most likely put into a freezer for a few minutes and placed on their backs on the table. Then when they woke up a person was circling their fingers above them (so this part of the tape was played in reverse giving the look of the flies rolling over to "play dead). He also said that the only way you could get flies to stay still long enough to juggle those balls would be to glue them to the table while they were cold. Then you could allow them to wake up and put a ball on their feet, which they would "walk" on in the fruitless attempt to right themselves. In other words, "No you cannot teach a fly to do that."
Posted by Nymph  on  Fri Jul 21, 2006  at  08:44 AM
These are not my words but they are true: "It
Posted by deio  on  Thu Aug 31, 2006  at  01:33 PM
they look dead
Posted by lppppppppp  on  Sat Jan 20, 2007  at  05:33 PM
Posted by LLLPPP  on  Sat Jan 20, 2007  at  10:12 PM
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