The earliest versions of fly swatters were found in China, Greece, and Egypt. The Chinese used a thin sheet of bamboo encased with leather. The Egyptian version would use palm leaves to swat flies away from them.
These were used for millennia until the beginning of the 20th century.
So, who invented the fly swatter?
The credit for inventing and patenting modern fly swatters goes to:
Robert R. Montgomery
In 1905, Robert R. Montgomery invented the modern version of the fly swatter that we use today. The head is made of metal, and many are shaped like tennis rackets to provide further reach.
These “fly killers” then came into commercial production by General Housewares in Chicago, who called them “fly bat.” Soon after, people began referring to this type as a fly swatter instead, which has stuck ever since.
Fly swatters were originally sold door-to-door by independent salesmen. They often dressed up as traveling judges who would dole out justice (in the form of swats) to flies who had committed crimes against humanity right there on your porch.
Fly swatters are now mainly manufactured in China, which has recently begun exporting them to the US.
History of Fly Swatters
Now that we know who invented the fly swatter and who gets the credit for patenting it – let’s dive deeper and see where the original idea came from!
First, who invented the fly swatter in China?
The earliest versions of fly swatters were found in China and were made from a thin sheet of bamboo encased with leather.
Chinese people have been killing flies for over three centuries using flyswatters made from thinly sliced bamboo or grass leaves. The handle is about half the length of the blade, and the two are joined by a square cross-section shaft so that the swatter can pivot when killing a fly. This design is a standard armament in China and was used to help students while doing exams.
The Egyptian version would use palm leaves to swat flies away from them. Egyptian version had a long handle, unlike the Chinese version.
And, who invented the fly swatter in Greece?
The ancient Greeks used fly swatters made from leather straps often found in temples. People who lived in Greece would swat flies with it during religious ceremonies. The ancient Romans also followed this practice and used a bundle of leaves tied together at one end to swat away flies.
Aristotle wrote about using ridged stalks to get rid of flies gathered around food on dining tables. So this was already an idea at least 2000 years old when our story began!
The fly swatter was made from a stick with a large paper flag tied to one end in medieval times. These flags would flap in the air, scaring flies away who were too dumb to know who was killing them!
There was also mention of a garment worn over one’s head that had horsehair glued onto it during ancient times. It would be used as a brush on one end, while the other end resembled a ball of string. When worn, this device would swat away flies who were trying to attack your face.
Types of Fly Swatters
Many types of fly swatters can be used to kill different kinds of flies.
Here are just a few:
Classic Fly Swatter: The classic version has one long handle and a large metalhead. It’s suitable for indoor use or short-distance outdoor applications.
Bucket Fly Swatter: You attach this one to any regular bucket or pail with a lid so you can easily swat insects that fall in the water source. It has an opening at the bottom, so you can remove your drowned victims at your leisure once they’ve passed on.
Tennis Racket Fly Swatter: This type has two blades coming out perpendicularly from the handle instead of flat like other versions above. The tennis racket fly swatter is also great for indoor or outdoor use and quickly reaches high corners or ceilings.
Roll-Up Fly Swatter: This is the most compact fly swatter if you need to take a swatting device with you on a trip. Just roll it up and fasten with a rubber band, and you’re good to go!
Fly Paper: If flies are more your enemy than insects who might want to destroy humanity, then maybe fly paper may be more suitable for use in your home. After all, who knows who these new visitors who have entered our base of operations are? It could be an attack from extraterrestrial beings who plan to eat us all alive!
Insect Zappers: These work by making mosquitoes or other flying insects attracted to bright blue lights that give away their position when they get close enough. You can then kill them with a surge of electricity from the battery that instantly fries the bug flying around trying to get food.
Why Is Fly Swatter Invention Important?
Nowadays, flies are the most common pest found in homes. They’re also dangerous to people with asthma, who can die if they accidentally inhale a fly who has previously eaten garbage or poop.
The invention of the fly swatter is essential because then you’ll be able to swat away these annoying insects. They try to scare you with their buzzing noise all over your home.
Unlike other swatters like tennis rackets, fly swatters don’t require much force to kill because flies aren’t massive! If anything, it’s good exercise for us who might want to lose weight and avoid heart disease.
The Fly Swatter Should Have Been Invented Sooner
In retrospect, it’s a little surprising that the fly swatter didn’t come about until 1905, when everyone who had been swatting flies with their hand finally decided to make a tool specifically for this purpose.
The dozens of people who had used palm leaves and thin bamboo sheets to swat flies should have recognized the need for such a tool long before it had become an official invention. I bet they would love to know who invented the fly swatter now!
Now that you know who invented the fly swatter, you can sit and swat your flies in peace, knowing who to credit for this helpful tool. And who knows what the future might hold? Maybe someone will invent a fly swatter that uses power or lasers instead of metal to kill flies. What do you think?