A family of two-winged polluters that is, too often, tolerated within our homes.
See below for House Flies, Bluebottles, Cluster Flies
Apart from the biting flies, all species feed by vomiting saliva on to the food surface, and sucking up the resulting liquid. In the course of doing so, the fly contaminates the food with bacteria from its gut and its feet. Thus, it may transmit food poisoning, dysentery, typhoid or cholera in countries where these occur.
The eggs of parasitic worms may also be carried by flies.
The Common Housefly and the Lesser Housefly are the most widespread household flies. The adult is 7-8mm long, grey in colour with black stripes on the back, with a single pair of veined membraneous wings.
The large compound eyes take up most of the head and are wider apart in the female than the male of the species. The smaller Lesser Housefly, rejoicing in the scientific name Fannia canicularis, is the one that cruises around light fittings, abruptly changing direction in mid-flight.
The Housefly has a sticky pad on each of its six hairy feet, and these enable it to walk upside down on ceilings or crawl up windows.
Houseflies complete their life cycle of egg, maggot, pupa, adult in a week during warm weather. The eggs are laid in batches of about 120 on rotting organic matter and the legless white maggots burrow into this food until ready to pupate in loose soil or rubbish.
The answer to “where do flies go in the winter?” is that some hibernate, but most pass the winter in the pupal stage.
Houseflies may transmit a wide range of bacterial diseases.
The Bluebottle is a large buzzing fly with shiny, metallic blue body, 6-12mm long.
One Bluebottle can lay up to 600 eggs, which in warm weather will hatch in under 48 hours and produce maggots which can become fully developed in a week. These maggots burrow into meat or carrion as they feed on it, and then pupate, often in loose soil, for about ten days before emerging as adult flies from the brown pupal case.
Bluebottles, like other flies, are often found around refuse tips, rotting animal matter, dirt and dustbins. They commute from filth to food, and carry bacteria on their legs, feet and bodies.
Scrupulous hygiene and prompt disposal of all refuse will discourage flies. Windows may be fitted with fly screens. Dustbins should be sited away from doors and windows, have tight-fitting lids and be sprayed or dusted inside and beneath with a household insecticide in warm weather.
Keep meat and other food covered. Use an insecticidal dustbin powder. Indoors, use an aerosol flyspray. Consider fitting fly screens over kitchen and dining area windows. Flykiller aerosols will kill flies quickly and sticky flypapers are also available.
There are also ultra-violet electric flykillers suitable for food premises.
These are dark greyish flies about 8mm long with yellowish hairs on the back and with overlapping wings. In autumn they congregate in large numbers in upper rooms or roof spaces of houses to hibernate. A mass of cluster flies has a characteristic smell. They are sluggish in flight and are a nuisance in the house. The larvae of one species are parasitic upon certain earthworms, so this species is more common in rural areas.
Cluster flies can often most easily be removed with a vacuum cleaner. Aerosol flykillers deal with smaller numbers. Pest control contractors may use insecticidal fogs or smoke generators to clear heavy infestations. Cluster flies may return to the same location year after year.
A family of very small (about 3mm) flies, some with prominent red eyes, characterised by a slow hovering flight in which the abdomen hangs down.
All are associated with rotting fruit and vegetables or fermenting liquids. One species breeds in sour milk, for example, in the residue of forgotten milk bottles.
Remove all “empties”, bottles or cans, and check for rotting fruit, vegetables or pools of spilled liquid. A flykiller may be used to control small outbreaks in the home.
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