How to repel flies with a "58"

I’d like to share with the teeming millions a newspaper article: it seems that a restaurant in Padua, Italy has choosen a novel (and non-toxic) way of dealing with the flies that bothered their customers.

The restaurant owners hung all over the place some cards with the number “58” printed on them with a big font, claiming that “they learned from TV that it is an old oriental trick” that works because “it messes with the 3D perception of the fly, that sees it as a threat” and therefore goes away to bother somebody else.

Hold on - I know that this is unmitigated bullshit, but I’d really like to know if there is actually some ancient (albeit silly) tradition of putting up numbers to scare insects away, or if the owner of the shop made it up (or if he is entirely crazy, of course).

Hmmm… Maybe we should start experimenting with this. A “57” might repel all those damned mosquitoes… “69” might work against Jeowah’s Witnesses, “00” against the IRS guys…


One of the master’s minions speaks on a related topic:

You might WAG that cards made of shiny stock would act the same as the water bags discussed in that article, and the printing on the card just adds to the legend.

If they are claiming that the repulsive effect has to do with the way the number “58” is written, it can hardly be an “old oriental trick”, since in “old oriental times” they wouldn’t have been using Arabic numbers.

Oriental really means “in the east,” which includes the ancient Arabic world.

A more modern trick which can legally be used where insecticides might be a bad idea; yellow cards or sticks coated with mineral oil. Many bugs are fond of yellow, and once they land on the oil, they can’t leave.

You may want to rephrase that. Arabic numerals is actually a misnomer. Written Arabic language doesn’t use Arabic numbers. This web page shows how the numerals are written in Arabic.