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Fly sprays kill insects by interrupting the nerve signals from the motor neurons in the insect. This in turn causes them to go into a permanent contraction which makes flying and respiration impossible, and the insects then die of asphyxiation.
Fly spray contains chemicals (including many organophosphate compounds) that bind to and permanently block the action of an enzyme called acetylcholinesterase. Acetyl choline (ACh) is the nerve transmitter substance released by motor neurones (at a site called the neuromuscular junction) to stimulate muscle contraction. The muscles relax (stops contracting) when the ACh is removed from the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) by the action of acetylcholinesterase. By inhibiting the cholinesterase the fly can no longer break down ACh in the NMJ and so its muscles lock up in a state of tetany (continuous contraction) making flying and respiration impossible.
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