The Aussie salute, also known as the Barcoo salute (after the Barcoo River) or Bush salute is the waving of one's hand in front of the face at regular intervals in order to prevent bush flies from landing on it, or entering one's nose or mouth. Pianka characterizes it as a gesture that is "diagnostic of Australia". The bush fly (Musca vetustissima) is the species that is the cause of the Aussie salute as opposed to other flies such as the housefly, as the bush fly is attracted to bodily fluids such as sweat, nasal mucus, saliva, blood and eyes. The Aussie salute can often be seen in outdoor television news reports or interviews, a recent example being a news report by ABC Television on flooding in Eugowra. Historically in Australia, the cork hat was worn to discourage flies but has been replaced by insect repellents and mesh masks in areas where the flies swarm.
Bush flies are disease vectors, since they walk on dung and on carrion, and if not prevented from doing so can lead to infections, including eye infections such as "sandy blight". Pianka reports that the Aussie salute is effective only as long as the flies are not too sticky, and that once a fly has tasted sweat, hand waving is generally useless at encouraging it to leave, with physically wiping the fly off being required.
The introduction of the dung beetle as a control mechanism in the 20th century has reduced the population of the bush fly by about 90%.
- Joseph Bindloss (2002). Queensland. Lonely Planet. p. 484. ISBN 0-86442-712-3.
- Eric R. Pianka (1994). The Lizard Man Speaks. University of Texas Press. pp. 120–121. ISBN 0-292-76552-5.
- Roger D. Moon (2009). "Muscid flies (Muscidae)". In Gary R. Mullen, Gary Mullen & Lance Durden. Medical and Veterinary Entomology. Academic Press. pp. 268–288. ISBN 978-0-12-372500-4.
- Bornemissza, G. F. (1976). "The Australian dung beetle project 1965-1975". Australian Meat Research Committee Review. 30: 1–30.