Why do the flies hang around *my* head?
October 9, 2013 5:35 PM   Subscribe

When out walking, I notice that I seem to attract more flies than anyone else around me. Assuming I maintain acceptable personal hygiene, why do flies choose me?

I live and work in the CBD of my city, and have a walk of about 45 minutes to and from work. On days where flies are particularly active, it's like I'm some sort of lord of the flies, and they can't be dissuaded from orbiting my head and regularly touching down on my face and neck.

As this is happening, I've made a point of watching other people walking near me, and I've confirmed that the flies aren't attacking everyone - just me.

I shower every day, and wash my hair every three days. I have a very relaxed job, and rarely break a sweat. I've checked with my friends (who can be relied upon to be constructively critical), and my personal hygiene is fine - in fact, I am known to be particularly non-smelly in general.
posted by paleyellowwithorange to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you diabetic? Might you be?
posted by trunk muffins at 5:39 PM on October 9, 2013

Response by poster: Not that I know of. Can you explain why that might be relevant?
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 5:43 PM on October 9, 2013

It could be the scents in your soap or shampoo that are attracting them.
posted by royalsong at 5:47 PM on October 9, 2013

Response by poster: Do you know what I should be looking out for? Are any scents known to attract flies?
posted by paleyellowwithorange at 5:49 PM on October 9, 2013

I don't, personally. You might be able to google some up. Maybe invest in some hypoallergnic/sensitive skin scent-free shampoo, conditioner, and soap and see if you see any difference. This might espeically be true if you're always using the same products.

Go without perfumes/colognes too.

(also be careful of threadsitting!)
posted by royalsong at 5:57 PM on October 9, 2013

I would avoid fruity scents -- they smell sweet, and flies like sugar (and fruit).

Truthfully, if you use completely unscented stuff, you'll reap a lot of advantages, not just fly avoidance.
posted by amtho at 6:06 PM on October 9, 2013

I don't know about other kinds of flies, but fruit flies eat yeast, so they are attracted to (1) Things that are already fermented (2) Actual yeast (3) Carbon dioxide (4) Things that would ferment well (sugars, fruit, etc.). So if you use a lot of brewers yeast, if you habitually drink a glass of wine with meals (but hang around with people who don't), or if you use grooming products with conspicuous amounts of alcohol in them, I can imagine fruit flies thinking you're pretty awesome, and wanting to hang around you instead of other folks.
posted by palmcorder_yajna at 6:25 PM on October 9, 2013

I'm going to assume you're in Australia, since you said CBD and flies, as that's pretty much the experience for everyone here during summer (I'm in Sydney).

So, bush flies. They are attracted to sweat, spit and tears. So, on hot days you are perfect. Head sweat, moist eyes, mouth and nostrils.

I think you may be exaggerating a bit in that they only are attracted to you, but perhaps you are moister than those around you.

The trick is to let them alight anywhere on your body other than your face and LEAVE THEM BE! If you disturb them, they'll go straight for you face again.

Large-brimmed hats can help a bit, as they cover the sweat and the flies don't like the shade (notice they won't go indoors with you?). The infamous cork-hats that only tourist buy are a home-grown remedy for flies. The swirly corks are supposed to keep them moving away from your face.

It's not called an Aussie salute because we're so patriotic, it's the damn bush flies buzzing our heads. The true blue Australians seem unfazed by the flies and ignore their tickley buzzing. Perhaps those around you aren't immune to the flies, they just don't care.

If you're not in Australia..., well I have no idea.
posted by qwip at 6:13 AM on October 10, 2013

Are you on the tall side? Purely anecdotal, but among several of my groups of friends it has been noted that that the gnats and flies seem to migrate to the tallest person in the group.
posted by desuetude at 12:22 PM on October 10, 2013

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