What do you really know about the house fly?
Test your knowledge with these interesting facts about the life and habits of the common fly.
- The average house fly lives on average 21 days
- A flies wings beat 200 times per second.
- Flies have 4000 lenses in each eye
- Flies jump up and backwards when taking off
- Average speed of a fly in flight is 5 m.p.h
- One of the things that separate Flies (Diptera) from other flying insects is their wings. Flies are the only insects that have only two. All other insects have four wings.
- Flies don’t bite or sting. They have neither teeth nor a stinger. Flies thrust a needle-like spike into their victims and injects a digestive juice that breaks down the victim’s cell tissue. They then suck the liquid into ingest it.
- Flies will only continue to beat their wings so long as their feet are free. As soon as the feet become stationary, the will stop flying.
Identifying Flie Species
There are many different types of flies. Identifying the species of the fly allows for the more effective extermination of the population. Understanding the life cycle and breading habits of the fly are considered when determining the method of extermination.
Black Flies are very small (1/25 to 1/5 inch) blood-sucking flies that are black to gray in color. They bite in shaded or partially shaded areas and fly as far as 15 miles from breeding areas. The larvae are found attached to underwater objects in shallow, fast-running rivers and streams. The saliva injected while feeding causes swelling and soreness that may persist for days. Because of the wide-spread breeding sites and long flight range of black flies, control is not very practical.
Blow Fly, a large family of flies known for the habit of the larvae infesting animal carcasses. They are found worldwide, occurring every place inhabited by people. Blow flies are larger than true house flies, and the bodies are metallic blue or green in color. Worldwide, there are 1200 species of blow flies, and in North America there are 80.Blow flies range in length from 0.28 to 0.63 in; they have robust bodies and wide heads. Adult blow flies feed on flower nectar, plant sap, and other sugary materials. The female blow fly lays her eggs on the body of a recently killed animal. The eggs hatch and the maggots feed on the decaying tissues.In warm weather, some species can complete their larval growth within a week. They then burrow into the soil and pupate, to emerge later as adult flies. Blow flies play an essential role in nature by decomposing dead tissue. The cluster fly species of blow fly is an exception: its larvae prey on earthworms.
Blow flies have played a role in medicine: species such as the green bottle fly and the black blow fly were once used to clean open wounds in humans because the maggots tend to feed on decayed tissue. Some blow fly species, such as the screw worm fly, lay their eggs on living animals. The maggots then feed on the animal’s healthy tissue. Because blow flies move between dead animals, dung, and human habitats, they transmit disease organisms to people, including the bacteria that cause dysentery, typhus, and cholera.
The cluster fly is between 1/4 to 3/8 inch long. They are dark gray. When crushed, they give off an odor like buckwheat honey. Cluster flies resemble house flies, but they are larger and have a yellowish sheen on the thorax.They are parasites of earthworms and breed outdoors in lawns and fields during the spring and summer.
Females lay their eggs in cracks in the soil, which hatch in three days. The larvae use earthworms as a food source. The larvae feed for about 22 days. After that, they go into the pupae stage, which lasts 11-14 days before emerging as adults. Adult flies feed on flowers.When fall approaches, they begin to enter structures in large numbers. Problems with cluster flies begin in late August as they move to winter quarters to over-winter. They are seeking warm sites with protective cracks for shelter, crawling back as far as they can get. It is important to consider treatment before this happens.
They have been known to squeeze around the edges of windows that are weather-proofed. As the number of flies attracted to the building increases, large clusters of flies huddle inside wall voids, attics, and false ceilings. Most infestations occur in the upper regions of a buildings, such as the attics of homes. In multi-story buildings, they can be found in the upper two or three floors, and on the south and west sides of the buildings.
Check around windows for live or dead flies. If you can find the voids in which they are over-wintering, you can treat the voids with a dust or aerosol, but that is not an easy task. To locate the voids, start with an inspection of cracks and crevices on the southern and western exterior walls.
Cluster fly problems can be partially prevented, but fall little can be done. All of those found within the home infiltrated walls months ago. A “mini-vac” is the best control of the individual flies that are present. If this is not successful a pryethrum contact aerosol can be used.
Late August and early September are the times to use a good residual spray, spraying the outside walls of the building where cluster flies land and rest before entering the building. These residual insecticides are applied outdoors to window frames, door frames soffits and eaves as well as any other areas that are vulnerable to entry.
Application of granules to the surrounding soil may help minimize Cluster Fly populations and later entry.
Recommended also would be a dust like Delta Dust, dusted into cracks that have not been sealed, allowing the dust to flow back into the void areas. Thoroughly caulking all exterior cracks on the sun-exposed sides (south and west) is very important.
Deer flies are pests of domestic and wild animals but will annoy and bite humans. Deer flies feed by sucking blood and cause a severely painful bite. Their mouthparts are blade like and it is painful when they cut through the skin. When the blood is flowing from the wound they will “lap” it up. The larvae feed in a wide variety of wet or damp sites that are high in organic material.The wings of this fly have dark markings and their body is tan or dark in color. The female of the species feeds on animal blood, while her male counterpart is a pollen collector. Deer flies deposit their eggs in damp areas around bays, lakes, ponds or swamps. The larvae of this fly feed on insects and can be found developing in wet areas.
Also called moth flies, sewer flies or filth flies these true flies have bodies and wings covered with numerous hairs. If crushed they leave a powdery smudge.Drain flies can be found in moist, highly organic debris areas such as sink drains, sewage treatment facilities, storm drains, dung and rotten vegetation. Adults range in size from 1/16 to 1/4 inch. They may be yellow to brown /black in color. During daylight, they will often be found resting on walls near drains.
Adult female drain flies lay their eggs in masses on the surface of gelatinous film found in drains and sewers. They also breed in moist, shady areas outdoors such as under potted plants, in bird feeders and baths, in moss, in clogged roof gutters, under air conditioners, in thick mulch, or on wet ground areas.
The larvae feed on decaying material that collects in drains. In natural settings, fly larvae feed on decaying plants and animals. Most are harmless to humans, though they may transmit bacteria and other microorganisms from their breeding sites to areas where people are. Adults live about two weeksFinding the sources of breeding and eliminating them is the best control. Floor drains, overflow cuts in sinks and tubs, sump pump pits and sewers can accumulate organic matter but do not receive enough water to flush the waste down the drain.
Flesh flies are found in urban and rural communities but are uncommon in houses or restaurants. They breed in excrement, decaying vegetable matter and animal flesh or meat. Though they carry leprosy bacilli, flesh flies are not problems as disease carriers or even as nuisances and pose little threat to human welfare or to livestock. Some species can cause intestinal pseudomyiasis in humans who consume food contaminated with larvae.Flesh flies are medium to large sized flies and have three dark thoracic stripes and mottled abdomens. Though some species may be smaller than house flies, most flesh flies are about 1/3 to 1/2 inch long.Flesh flies retain their eggs within the body of the female until they are ready to hatch, The larvae are deposited directly onto the food, the immature will be eating. The life cycle for the common species can be completed in eight to 21 days. The preferred breeding media around residences are decayed flesh, spoiling meat, and manure. Garbage can meat scraps and dog food left outside are abundant sources of flesh fly breeding. Flesh flies can breed in dead rodents and birds in attics or wall voids of houses.
Females of most species deposit 20 to 40 larvae directly onto the host or substitute. Flesh fly maggots feed for three or four days and develop through three instars. Soon afterward, these mature maggots enter the pupae stage. Adult flies emerge in ten to 14 days and the life cycle is repeated. Flesh flies rarely require chemical control. The burial or destruction of carcasses, manure heaps and mounds of decaying organic matter eliminates many favorable breeding sites.
The adult flies are very small insects, about 1/8 inch long (3mm). Fruit flies belong to the order Diptera. True fruit flies constitute the family Tephritidae. Fruit flies are among the smallest flies found in homes.Fruit flies are found hovering around overly ripe fruit. Fermenting materials, such as leftover beer or soft drinks, are a favorite food of these flies. Populations tend to be greatest in late summer and early fall as they infest fruits during the harvest season.The Fruit fly is about one third the size of the house or filth fly. Adults have red eyes and yellow-brown bodies. Life cycle from egg to adult is 10 days. Eggs are laid near or on top of attractants (fermenting materials) such as beverages, decaying fruit and vegetable matter, garbage or slime in drains. They are attracted to any area where moisture has accumulated including mops and wet rags.
The common house fly, is a pest all over the world. The adult has the fourth wing vein sharply angled and four length-wise dark stripes on the top of the thorax. Its face has two velvety tripes which are silver above and gold below. Each adult female begins laying eggs a few days after hatching, laying a total of five to six batches of 75 to 100 small, white oval eggs. In warm weather these hatch in 12 to 24 hours into cream-colored larvae which burrow into the food material on which they hatched. These larvae grow and pupate in 4 to 7 days. The mature larva contracts until its skin forms a case about 1/4 inch long. Inside this case, the pupa forms. When fully formed, the adult fly breaks open the end of the pupal case and emerges. It is ready to mate within in a few hours after merging.Although they are attracted to a wide variety of food materials, house flies have mouthparts which enable them to ingest only liquid materials. Solid materials are liquefied by means of regurgitated saliva. This liquefied food is then drawn up by the mouthparts and passed onto the digestive tract.During daylight hours house flies will rest on floors, walls and ceilings indoors. Outdoors they will rest on plants, on the ground, on fence wires, garbage cans and other similar surfaces. At night they will rest on ceilings, electric wires and dangling light cords indoors. In all situations, they prefer corners and edges or thin objects such as wires and strings. Night resting places are near daytime sources of food and are 5 to 15 feet off the ground.
Sanitation is the first measure of defense. Whenever possible, food and materials on which the flies can lay their eggs must be removed, destroyed, or isolated from the egg-laying adult. Killing adult flies will reduce infestation, but the elimination of breeding areas is necessary for good management. Garbage cans and dumpsters should have tight-fitting lids and be cleaned regularly.
These flies appear in the early spring before the house fly has become numerous. These species are smaller that the house fly, more slender in appearance and the fourth vein extends directly to the edge of the wing instead of curving sharply upward as in the house fly. This species lays it eggs on decaying vegetable matter and excrement, of human, horses, and cows. The larvae emerge in 24 hours and may be recognized as a flattened, spiny organism about 6 mm long when full-grown. The pupal period lasts about 7 days under favorable conditions. The complete life cycle last 15 to 30 days.
Midges alarm people since they resemble mosquitoes. However, they differ from mosquitoes in that the wings are not scaled and the mouthparts are short and not adapted for biting. Adult midges are slender, less than 5 mm long with long, slender legs and wings. Midges lay their eggs on water. The larvae are aquatic found in quiet water such as lakes, ponds, reservoirs, and tanks, and are bottom feeders. Polluted water apparently favors their growth and development. In the summer, eggs will hatch in 3 days and larvae will reach adulthood in 4 weeks. During peak emergence, large numbers of midges fly into residential and industrial areas causing annoyance and damage. They are attracted to lights at night and thousands will rest on the outside of buildings and will enter homes through the slightest crack.
The phorid fly breeds in and feeds on moist decaying organic matter. Because it frequents unsanitary areas (with the ability to spread disease-causing bacteria onto food products) this fly is of particular concern to hospitals, healthcare facilities, and restaurants. The reproductive potential of these flies is tremendous and large numbers of them may appear in a short time. Adult flies are strong fliers, having been known to travel as far as 6 miles within a 24 hour period. Phorid flies are a serious pest when found in food producing, food handling or food serving facilities. Healthcare facilities are another favorite target of this fly. Fermenting materials such as fruit, dirty garbage containers, rotten vegetables or slime in drains are just a few of their favorite breeding and feeding places.Phorid flies develop by egg, larva, pupa, and adult. The female will lay about 20 eggs at a time. Each adult female phorid will lay approximately 500 eggs. The tiny eggs are deposited on or near the surface of decaying organic matter. Larvae emerge in 24 hours and feed for 8 to 16 days. The Phorid fly larvae then crawl to a drier spot to pupate. The life cycle from egg to adult can be completed in 14 days but may take as long as 37 days to complete their cycle.Sanitation and habitat elimination are keys to managing this group of flies. When the breeding source cannot be eliminated, the use of residual insecticides such as wettable powders mixed with water to spray exterior surfaces where flies would land.
The stable fly can be distinguished from other common domestic flies by the long, pointed proboscis, which extends in front of the head. Both males and females use this proboscis to pierce the skin of a host and suck blood. The bite is painful and outdoor human activity may be curtailed when these flies are numerous. Eggs are laid in such places as decaying hay, straw, fermenting weeds, grass and seaweeds. Stable flies are found around stables and houses, and along the seashore and near dog kennels. The eggs hatch from 1 to 3 days into yellowish-white maggots or larvae. These larvae pass through 3 instars and pupate in the last larval skin. In warm weather, the pupal stage lasts 6 to 20 days. The average adult lives about 20 days.