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Pest Library: Flies

FlyThe housefly, Musca domestica, is a fly of the suborder Cyclorrhapha. It is believed to have evolved in the Cenozoic era, possibly in the Middle East, and has spread all over the world as a commensal of humans. It is the most common fly species found in houses. Adults are grey to black with four dark longitudinal lines on the thorax, slightly hairy bodies and a single pair of membranous wings. They have red eyes, set further apart in the slightly larger female.

The female housefly usually mates only once and stores the sperm for later use. She lays batches of about 100 eggs on decaying organic matter such as food waste, carrion or faeces. These soon hatch into legless white larvae, maggots. After 2 to 5 days of development, these metamorphose into reddish-brown pupae, about 8 mm (0.3 in) long. Adult flies normally live for 2 to 4 weeks, but can hibernate during the winter. The adults feed on a variety of liquid or semi-liquid substances, as well as solid materials which have been softened by their saliva. They carry pathogens on their bodies and in their faeces, and can contaminate food and contribute to the transfer of food-borne illnesses. For these reasons they are considered pests.

Male houseflies are sexually mature after 16 hours and females after 24. Females produce a pheromone, (Z)-9-Tricosene (muscalure), which attracts males; it has found use as a pesticide, luring males to fly traps. The male initiates the mating by bumping into the female, in the air or on the ground, known as a “strike”. He climbs on to her thorax, and if she is receptive a courtship period follows, in which the female vibrates her wings and the male strokes her head. The male then reverses onto her abdomen and the female pushes her ovipositor into his genital opening; copulation, with sperm transfer, lasts for several minutes. Females normally mate only once and then reject further advances from males, while males mate multiple times. A volatile oviposition pheromone to assist in egg clustering is deposited along with the eggs.

The larvae depend on warmth and sufficient moisture to develop; generally, the warmer the temperature, the faster they will grow. In general, fresh swine and chicken manure present the best conditions for the developing larvae, reducing the larval period and increasing the size of the pupae. Cow, goat and horse manure produce fewer, smaller pupae, while fully composted swine manure, with a water content of under 40%, produces none at all. Pupae can range from about 8 to 20 milligrams (0.0003 to 0.0007 ounces) under different conditions.

The life cycle can be completed in seven to ten days under optimal conditions but may take up to two months in adverse circumstances. In temperate regions, there may be twelve generations per year, and in the tropics and subtropics, more than twenty. Houseflies feed on liquid or semiliquid substances beside solid material which has been softened by saliva. They deposit faeces frequently and regurgitate semi-digested food. Although they are domestic flies, mainly confined to human habitations and farm buildings, they can fly for several miles from the breeding place.

Houseflies carry a wide variety of organisms on their hairs, mouthparts, vomitus and faeces. Parasites carried include cysts of protozoa e.g. Entamoeba histolytica, Giardia lamblia and eggs of helminths, e.g., Ascaris lumbricoides, Trichuris trichiura, Hymenolepis nana, Enterobius vermicularis. Houseflies are capable of carrying over 100 pathogens, such as those causing typhoid, cholera, salmonellosis, bacillary dysentery, tuberculosis, anthrax, ophthalmia and pyogenic cocci. Disease-carrying organisms on the outside surface of the fly may survive for a few hours, but those in the crop or gut may still be viable several days later. There are usually too few bacteria on the external surface of the flies (except perhaps for Shigella) to cause infection and the main routes to human infection are through the fly’s vomit and particularly its faeces.

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Palm Beach County: West Palm Beach , Boca Raton , Boynton Beach , Delray Beach , Greenacres , Jupiter , Lake Worth , Palm Beach Gardens , Royal Palm Beach and Wellington .

Monroe County: Key Largo , Islamorada , Marathon and Key West.

Ants: Acrobat Ant, Allegheny Mound Ant, Argentine Ant, Big-headed Ant, Carpenter Ant, Citronella Ant, Crazy Ant, Field Ant, Fire Ant, Ghost Ant, Harvester Ant, Little Black Ant, Moisture Ant, Odorous House Ant, Pavement Ant, Pharaoh Ant, Texas Leaf Cutter Ant, Thief Ant, Velvety Tree Ant and White-footed Ant.

Bitings Insects: Bed Bugs, Bird Lice, Cat Flea, House Mosquito, Human Head Lice, Kissing Bug, Pubic Lice and Thrips

Mosquitoes: Asian Tiger Mosquito, Aedes-Aegypti Mosquito and Culex Mosquito.

Cockroaches: American Cockroach, Asian Cockroach, Australian Cockroach, Brown Banded Cockroach, Cuban Cockroach, Florida Woods Cockroach, German Cockroach, Oriental Cockroach, Smoky Brown Cockroach, Surinam Cockroach and Woods Cockroach.

Flies: Blow Fly and Bottle Fly, Cluster Fly, Crane Fly, Face Fly, Flesh Fly, Fruit Fly, Fungus Gnat, House Fly, Drain Fly and Phorid Fly.

Rodents: Deer Mouse, House Mouse, Norway Rat, Pack Rat, Roof Rat, Vole and White-footed Mouse.

Spiders: Black Widow Spider , Brown Recluse Spider, Cellar Spider, Crab Spider, Domestic House Spider, Funnelweb Spider, Garden Spider, Ground Spider, Hobo Spider, House Spider, Jumping Spider, Spiny-backed Orb Weaver Spider, Tarantula, Wolf Spider and Yellow Sac Spider.

Stinging Pests: Africanized Honeybee, American Dog Tick, Bald-faced Hornet, Bed Bugs, Bird Lice, Bird Mite, Deer Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Bumblebee, Carpenter Bee, Cat Flea, European Hornet, Fire Ant, Honeybee, Human Head Lice, Kissing Bug, Lone Star Tick, Paper Wasp, Scorpion, Soft Tick, Thrips and Yellow Jacket.

Termites: Dampwood Termite, Drywood Termite, Formosan Subterranean Termite and Subterranean Termite.

Ticks and Mites: American Dog Tick, Bird Mite, Black-legged Tick, Brown Dog Tick, Clover Mite, Lone Star Tick and Soft Tick.

Other Pests: American Spider Beetle, Bean Weevil, Cigarette Beetle, Cowpea Weevil, Dried Fruit Beetle, Drugstore Beetle, Foreign Grain Beetles, Indian Meal Moth, Larder Beetle, Mediterranean Flour Moth, Red or Confused Flour Beetle, Rice & Granary Weevils, Sawtoothed & Merchant, Grain Beetles, Shiny Spider Beetle, Cabinet Beetles, Centipedes & Millipedes, Chinch Bugs and Earwigs.