Identification and Life Cycle
The house fly (musca domestica) is the most common household pest. Not only are house flies a nuisance, but they can transport disease causing organisms to humans and can be a public health problem.
The House flyis 3/16 to 1/4 – inch in size, with robust bodies, reddish eyes and two transparent wings. The thorax is marked with four narrow dark sripes. Their mouth parts are adapted for sponging up liquids, and cannot bite.
The female can lay up to 500 eggs in several groups of 75 to 150 eggs over a 3 to 4 day period. In as little as 1 to 2 days the worm-like maggots (larva) emerge from the eggs. They have no eyes, antennae or legs, and will feed on the material which they were layed upon. The larva goes through three instars (larval molts) to become a full-grown cream colored maggot in 4 to 13 days. They then form a reddish brown pupal case around them, and complete their final development within 2 to 6 days. Once the adult flies emerge from its pupal case, it will mate within one to two days later. They can live up up to 15 to 21 days long.
Habits and Damage
House flies tend to stay 1 to 2 miles of where they were hatched, but will travel up to 20 miles to find food. The warm summer months are prime time for the development of the house fly and can complete its life cycle in as little as 7 to 10 days. They are inactive at night, and will rest on ceilings, beams, trees, shrubs, and outdoor wires.
House flies feed and deposit eggs in moist decaying material such as grass clippings, garbage, decomposing animal and vegetable matter and excrement. Since flies regularly come in contact with unsanitary conditions, this enables them to possibly transmit pathogens such as viruses, fungi and bacteria that can cause food poisoning, typhoid fever, dysentery, tuberculosis, anthrax, and parasitic worms.
The house fly cannot bite or chew. Its mouthparts are designed to sponge and suck up liquid to ingest. When it comes upon solid food to eat, it regurgitates its saliva onto the food, turning it to a liquid. They do require water since they are continually salivating and discharging liquids. They can contaminate food and surfaces through their mouthparts, vomitus and feces.
Most flies live an average of 21 days, but will only survive for about 2 to 3 days without food. The female needs to obtain food (protein) to allow the production of eggs.
Prevention and Management
The best strategy for controlling house flies is to follow good sanitation, inspection and exclusion practices. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program can help maintain a pest-free environment.
It is important to properly identify the species and alter conditions in and around a home or building that flies are attracted to. By eliminating their breeding sites on which they lay eggs, you can prevent further fly infestations.
The following steps can be taken to help prevent or reduce a potential problem with flies.
- Correct any moisture problems around the structure such as water leaks in roof, walls and plumbing fixtures.
- Tightly seal plastic bags containing garbage before disposing in receptacles or dumpsters.
- Promptly remove manure, rotting mulch, lawn clippings and animal carcasses from the property.
- Empty food garbage receptacles daily and keep trash containers clean.
- Clean up sugary spills, dead insects, and greasy items on counters and floors.
- Repair holes in window screens & make sure that screens & windows close tightly.
- Eliminate shallow, stagnant pools of water that will attract flies and other insects.
- Inspect your potted house plants for excessive soil moisture which can attract flies.