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50 quirky Housefly facts

Updated: Mar 13


Houseflies are annoying pests that are a nuisance by their mere presence.

However, their habit of visiting varied habitats and body structures makes them worse as ideal carriers of a hundred disease-causing microorganisms.

Houseflies develop in organic matter and play an important ecological role in nutrient recycling when their maggots feed on organic matter.

Controlling the multiplication of houseflies in organic matter is the key step to housefly control.

When allowed to breed, houseflies multiply rapidly and reach high population levels quickly and easily.

Screening windows and doors limits housefly entry indoors, but even then houseflies are tiny and can wriggle into tiny gaps to enter homes and businesses. Food odors attract houseflies from far and cleanliness inside a place is no guarantee that flies from the neighbours or a distant location won’t enter it.

Fly control through pesticide bait is popular in the pest control industry but has limited effectiveness as such an approach does not limit the production of houseflies through organic matter.

Fly ribbons, fly paper, and insect light traps (flycatchers) are monitoring tools to assess housefly populations and plan remedial actions. Limiting the multiplication of houseflies through barring the access to organic matter is the most important step in housefly control.

We have researched housefly information to present the following fifty facts that illustrate this unique insect pest with amazing anatomical features and functional capabilities that make it a formidable pest.

1. Liquid diet: Houseflies survive on a liquid diet as their mouth part design requires them to liquefy their food to consume it by a sponging action.

2. Slow fliers: Houseflies cover only about 7.5 kilometers an hour.

3. Egg-laying machines: During their month-long lifespan, female houseflies lay up to two thousand eggs, which is why a fly infestation quickly develops into an intractable problem.

4. Liquefying solid food: Houseflies regurgitate their digestive juices onto any solid to liquefy it and prepare it for consumption through their proboscis.

5. Tasting with feet: Houseflies have chemonsensilla or taste receptors on their feet to taste their food before consuming it.

6. Two-winged creatures: Houseflies have only one pair of wings and use those membranous wings to fly around. Their second pair of modified club-like wings help a housefly balance while flying.

7. Defecating on their food: Houseflies frequently defecate almost every five minutes and do so even on the food they consume through liquefaction.

8. Diurnal creatures: Houseflies are active during the day and inactive at night when they rest.

9. Disease spreaders: As houseflies visit unhygienic places that harbor harmful bacteria like Salmonella and E. coli, they are important vectors that spread nearly one hundred diseases those germs they carry on their bodies cause.

10. Living close to food: Houseflies rest on walls and ceilings of the area where they can access their food. Daylight, the odor of stains left by other houseflies, and food odors attract a housefly to their resting spots.

11. Trapeze artists: Houseflies are experts at moving horizontally or vertically. However, they can also move upside down, aided by their feet’s pulvilli or foot pads that secrete a sticky substance for a surface grip.

12. 360 ° view: Houseflies can see even behind their heads. Their compound eyes with lenses called ommatidia give them an all-around view, making them anticipate and evade predators and human attacks.

13. Short-lived creatures: Houseflies live only for a fortnight to a month.

14. Heightened sensitivity to sugar: Housefly feet are ten million times more sensitive to sugar than the human tongue.

15. Quick reaction time: Houseflies process around 250 images per second compared to humans’ 60 images per second. As a result, it is nearly impossible to swat a fly as it senses objects approaching it and escapes before getting hit, taking just 100 milliseconds to decide to escape from danger.

16. Pet poop lovers: Houseflies are very fond of pet excrement due to the strong odor that makes it easy for the houseflies to find it.

17. Geometric geniuses: Houseflies can spot an approaching danger by calculating the angle of a newspaper, fly swat, or hand to make an evasive flight plan quickly.

18. Origins in the dirt: Houseflies begin their journey in decomposing organic matter such as rotting fruit, decomposing carcasses, and excreta. Female houseflies lay eggs in such material to enable their maggots that emerge from the eggs, a plentiful food source.

19. Fly swat planning: You can swat a housefly by anticipating its forward movement and successfully squishing it.

20. Home birds that fly mostly in search of their food: Houseflies live only 2-3 kilometers from where they are born but can fly even up to 30 kilometers in search of food.

21. Spotting a fake ‘fly’ from its name: Only insects spelled with a separation, such as a house fly, are true Dipterans, whereas creatures such as dragonflies, where the word is spelled singly, are not true flies.

22. The love spot in a male fly’s eyes: Male houseflies look for female houseflies even while flying around using their eyes’ dorsofrontal love spot.

23. Forensic entomology: The presence of housefly maggots and adults at a crime scene is useful in determining the time of the crime and constitutes forensic entomology.

24. Synanthropic creatures: Houseflies occur everywhere humans live and spread through human movement by sea, air, rail, and road.

25. The origin of a fly’s buzz: Houseflies beat their wings 1000 times per minute, creating a buzz.

26. Tiny eggs: Rice-shaped housefly eggs are so small that one hundred of them can fit into a pea and are thus too small to detect.

27. Not true to their name: Houseflies are not commonly found inside homes! They do enter homes through doors and windows, but it is more likely that fruit flies are found at homes hitchhiking on rotting fruits brought home. However, houseflies are common outside homes but also any structure emitting food odours and having rotting organic matter.

28. Apodous maggots: Housefly larvae, or the young ones that hatch from their eggs, do not have eggs and move around by crawling.

29. The heights of housefly occurrence: Houseflies have been found up to 2000 meters, where they are likely to have hitchhiked and not flown.

30. Eyes within the eye: The housefly compound eye has three to six thousand individual lenses that let them perceive multiple images of an object from different angles.

31. The bigger gender: Female houseflies are larger than male houseflies and have eyes slightly wider apart than male houseflies.

32. Ecological function: Housefly maggots or larvae feed on organic matter and help recycle nutrients in nature.

33. No growth after adult emergence: A housefly that emerges from a pupa does not grow. Houseflies have different sizes because of the nutrition they receive as maggots.

34. Chemical attractant: Female houseflies secrete a pheromone, [(Z)-9-Tricosene], to attract male houseflies. The male housefly must contact the female housefly to detect the pheromone.

35. The ultimate breeding machine: If there were no restrictions on fly breeding, pair of house flies would reach 2000000000 trillion in 5 months.

36. Sound by breathing in and out: Apart from the flapping of housefly wings, housefly buzz results from the insect breathing in and out through its spiracles.

37. Their place of origin: Houseflies originated in the Middle East and Central Asia about 65-70 million years ago.

38. Mating only once: A female housefly mates once with a male housefly before laying 350-2000 eggs.

39. Human maggot infestation: Houseflies may sometimes lay eggs in decaying wounds of people. If housefly maggots develop under the skin of a person, they will feed on that person’s flesh and blood before bursting out through the skin after developing into adult house flies.

40. Imperfect vision: Houseflies can’t perceive details through their eyes like vertebrates. They mainly focus on abnormalities in their surroundings to plan their action.

41. Simple eyes to complement compound one: Houseflies have three simple eyes and ocelli on their forehead that helps them to navigate by using their ocelli like a compass.

42. Flying champion: A housefly can fly 300 times its length in a second, which is unparalleled.

43. Strong sense of smell: Some houseflies have flown seven kilometers attracted by rotting flesh!

44. Spongy mouth and feelers: A housefly’s proboscis or labellum has a spongy mouth to absorb liquids and two maxillary palps or feelers that taste food.

45. Flying with clean wings: Housefly wings do not function if they have debris on them. Hence, houseflies frequently clean their wings to remain in flight readiness.

46. Antennal odor detection: Housefly antennae on its head allow it to detect odors.

47. Retractable proboscis: The housefly can completely retract its proboscis into its head when it is not feeding and using the organ.

48. Two secret weapons for movement: Housefly wings and legs are its two organs that allow it to move rapidly.

49. Bacterial millionaire: A single housefly can carry up to 6.5 million bacteria.

50. Expanders to emerge as adult: On the head of an adult fly is the expander that swells to puncture the pupal case to make the adult emerge and fly out. The expander is a sac that inflates with body juices to split open the pupal case. Adult houseflies do not need and do not have the expanders.


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