The common housefly (musca domestica) is one of the most widely distributed insects in the world. In Australia we hold a special regard for the humble housefly, as anyone who has seen the iconic ‘Australian salute’ or a cork hat will attest. Flies are common guests at Aussie barbecues.
Houseflies carry disease causing organisms that they pick up from garbage and sewerage. A single fly may carry as many as five million bacteria.
Houseflies have only one pair of wings. The hind pair has evolved into a pair of small halteres that help stabilise the insect during flight. Female flies can lay as many as 500 eggs in various batches of 75 to 150. Maggots hatch from the eggs and feed on dead and decaying organic material, garbage or faeces. The maggots last about a week before becoming pupae. The adult flies emerge from the pupae in a complete metamorphosis. The fly will not grow any larger in its adulthood. Small flies are a result of insufficient food in the larval stage. Males are aggressively territorial and will fight off any other males in their territory.
Flies develop faster in warm temperatures. Ever wondered where all the flies go in winter? During this period most flies survive in the larval or pupae stages.
To feed, flies ‘spit’ on solid food to predigest it. Then they suck the nutrient rich saliva back into their abdomen.
The best way to manage houseflies is prevention. The elimination of breeding sites is of the utmost importance. Organic material should not be left where it might attract flies. Fly screens should be kept in good repair.
Electrocutor fly traps can provide a safe and efficient means of managing flies. Air curtains are another option, especially useful in high traffic areas such as shops.