Michael Finney submitted verifiable evidence from 1936.
The first evidence for the metaphorical blue-arsed fly in the OED entry comes from a 1970 quote attributed to the Duke of Edinburgh:
1970 Times 22 Apr. 7/3 The Duke of Edinburgh‥asked a photographer if he was getting enough pictures… ‘You have been running around like a blue-arsed fly.’
The r-less blue-assed fly, however, is attested from at least 1932. Why such a discrepancy? Since our original OED entry was published in 2005, we’ve discovered an earlier example of blue-arsed fly in a dictionary of slang from 1949, but we suspect there may be evidence out there that is earlier still. Can you help us find it? Real-life examples dating from before 1970 and dictionary examples from before 1949 would both be welcome.
For reference, here are the entries as currently published in OED Online:
OED Editor Fiona McPherson talks about this appeal in the video below:
Posted by OED_Editor on 27 September 2012 19.40