Why Do Flies Rub Their Legs Together?

flies rub legs, house fly

Is this fly up to no good?  Photo via Flickr.

Have you ever seen flies rub their legs together?  Do you have any idea why they do that?

The other day I was in my kitchen just cleaning up and saw a fly buzzing around.  I watched it zooming and zipping around, waiting for it to land.  Finally it landed and then it proceeded to rub its legs together.  To me it looked like it was rubbing its hands together as it came up with some sneaky plan.  However,  it turns out that fly was doing what all of us do – cleaning itself.

Flies Have Senses In Their Feet!

Yes, it is true.  Flies are able to taste or sense food through their feet.  They have special sense organs in their feet that let them know what kind of food it is and if it is edible or not.

flies rub, legs, housefly

A common housefly that you probably see all the time spends a lot of time cleaning itself.

Flies Rub Their Legs Together To Clean Themselves

Flies rub their legs together in order to keep their legs clean, which allows them to use the senses on their legs.  This ‘grooming’ action that they do removes dirt, and other items from their sensors.  It is important for them to keep all of their senses working as good as possible to help them fly around, find food, and just survive.

It is similar to people making sure we can see and hear things.  If we couldn’t see or hear we would have a hard time moving around and surviving.

Flies Rub All Over Their Body To Clean Themselves

In addition to cleaning their front legs, flies also will sometimes clean other parts of their body.  They will clean the rest of their legs, their bodies, their wings, and even their eyes.