Fly into Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport and, if you do what most people do after a long flight, you are probably headed to the lavatory. If you’re a guy, you’ll see that Schiphol’s bathrooms sports a feature many do not — urinals, with flies on them, as pictured right. Stare for a minute and you’ll notice that the fly doesn’t move. Look around, and you’ll note that the flies are everywhere — one per urinal, all the way down the row.
The fly is a peel-and-paste decal, and it’s not there for decoration or, even, to keep real flies away. It’s a target, plain and simple. Something for customers to aim at as they urinate.
Professor Mary Berenbaum, head of the department of entomology (the study of insects) at the University of Illinois told NPR that apparently, men have “a deep-seated instinct to aim at targets”. The fly decal fulfills that need, and men spend more of their attention making sure they hit the target, so to speak. Schilphol’s manager claimed that “spillage” was down 80% once the flies were added. That, of course, saves a lot of money on bathroom maintenance costs.
Bonus fact: Airports and insects seem to go together quite often. Dusseldorf International Airport, in Germany, uses bees as a complement to their traditional methods of measuring air quality. Beekeepers collect honey from bees at and around airports, and turn it over to chemists who check the honey for instances of toxins.
From the Archives: Americans Flush Five Cents a Day, Every Day: Ever wonder how much toilet water costs? Wonder no more.
Related: A ten-pack of urinal flies, for $9.49. They’re advertised as toilet training tools, for the toddlers in your lives.