Fly Facts

There are more than 120,000 species of flies worldwide with about 18,000 found in North America. A female housefly can lay up to 600 eggs in her short lifetime. Most flies live an average of 21 days and take on various shapes throughout their short lives.

Baby flies are called larvae, but they are also known as maggots. Medical doctors use a special species of maggots to help patients with flesh wounds, especially burn victims. Maggots eat away the damaged flesh, which helps the wound heal.

Fruit Flies

Fruit flies get their common name from their small size and fondness of some fruits. Small fruit flies are nuisance pests, but may transmit diseases. Fruit flies only live for 8-10 days. In that time, females lay around 500 eggs, using rotting fruit or vegetables as their nest.

Diet: Fruit flies feed on decaying fruits and vegetables.

Habitat: Fruit flies are commonly found in homes, restaurants and other facilities where food is processed. They are especially attracted to the garbage that has just been sitting around.

Impact: Fruit flies are found in unsanitary conditions like garbage dumps and trashcans. When they are around, humans can become very sick.

Prevention: Keep your home clean. Remove kitchen trash every day and keep kitchen counters clean. Immediately remove rotting food from your home.

House Flies

House flies are the most famous of 300,000 species of flies and they can be found all over the world. They can survive in all habitats where people can survive because they are accustomed to living near humans. House flies are pests because they easily reproduce and transmit numerous diseases. People apply various insecticides to eradicate them, but they are still very numerous and even resistant to some of those chemicals. On the other hand, house flies are beneficial because they accelerate the recycling process by decomposing organic waste.

These pests get their name from being the most common fly found around homes. Adult House flies can grow to one-quarter of an inch long and usually live between 15 and 25 days. House flies taste with their feet, which are 10 million times more sensitive to sugar than the human tongue!

Diet: Flies do not have teeth or a stinger. Their mouths absorb food like a sponge. They can only eat liquids but they can turn many solid foods into a liquid through spitting or vomiting on it. Their tongues are shaped like straws so they can suck up their food. They eat any wet or decaying matter, but they are particularly attracted to pet waste because the odor is strong and it is easy for them to find.

Habitat: House flies tend to stay within 1-2 miles of where they were born, but will travel up to 20 miles to find food. They breed in garbage cans, compost heaps and pet areas.

Impact: These insects have been known to carry over 100 different kinds of disease-causing germs.

Prevention: Keep your homes clean. Remove trash regularly and seal your garbage cans. Clean up pet waste immediately. Use fine mesh screens on doors and windows to prevent flies from getting into your home.

Horsefly

Horsefly is the common name for the large hairy flies of the family Tabanidae. Male horseflies feed on pollen and nectar but the females suck blood as well and are common pests of animals and sometimes of humans. The bites of many species are very painful. The larger horseflies, e.g., the mourning horsefly and the 1-in. (2.5-cm) black horsefly, belong to the genus Tabanus; the smaller and more common banded horseflies, with black, brown, or yellow bodies and brilliantly colored eyes, are members of the genus Chrysops. Deer flies, which carry the diseases anthrax and tularemia, and in Africa, a filarial worm infestation, belong to this group. Horseflies are most abundant in hot weather. They lay eggs on plants or stones close to water. The somewhat flattened 1/2-inch (1.3-cm) larvae have fleshy protuberances on each body segment, aiding in locomotion; they live in water or in moist earth and feed on snails and on other insect larvae.

Cluster Flies

Homeowners are accustomed to swatting flies in the kitchen during the summer months. However, cluster flies make their debut in the autumn when they fly to the sunny sides of homes in search of protected over-wintering sites and may be found flying about inside, often in great numbers, throughout the winter. These flies are not reproducing within the structure, but become active on warm days and crawl out of wall voids and attics in a confused attempt to go back outside. Cluster flies are thought to be native to Europe and may have found their way to North America in the ballast of ships containing soil and earthworms, which are cluster fly hosts.

Adult cluster flies are slightly larger than the common housefly. They are dull gray with black markings and have golden-yellow hairs on the thorax, which can give the appearance of a golden sheen. The hairs are more numerous on the underside of the thorax between and near the legs. The immature stages, egg and larva, are seldom seen as the eggs are deposited on the soil and the larva or maggots burrow into earthworms on which they feed. The maggots are cream colored and are an elongated wedge shape. As members of the fly family Calliphoridae, the blow flies, the maggots resemble other blow flies commonly found on decaying carrion.

As a nuisance pest, Pollenia rudis joins the ranks of other overwintering pests such as the multicolored Asian lady beetle, the western conifer seed bug and the boxelder bug. Cluster flies will not damage your home. Occasionally, the flies may leave small dark-colored spots of excrement on windows and walls, but they are not known to carry any diseases of medical importance to humans. In addition to the ‘clustering’ on the sunny exterior of buildings in the fall, the flies will gather in large numbers at windows within the home on warm winter days. The flies are typically sluggish in flight and can be easily swatted or captured.