Fly Scientific Name: Diptera
All About Flies
For some, flies may be a familiar sight on a warm summer day. These tiny, flying creatures thrive in warm climates and enjoy a diet of dead, decaying animal carcasses or trash. Most true flies have one pair of wings that are designed for agile flight. It is this feature that sets them apart from similar insects that have two sets of wings, like mayflies, fireflies or dragonflies.
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Flies are the most commonly cited of all domestic pests. They are usually found lingering around food sources or trash and can present themselves as an unwelcome guest at outdoor parties and barbecues. They often distract family members with their persistent buzzing. These insects can cause such annoyance that many novelty items have been marketed to get rid of the pests, such as electric or over-sized flyswatters.
Flies inhabit every part of the world except the polar caps. There are over 16,000 species that have been identified in North America alone. Flies thrive in 75-80 degree Fahrenheit (but can live in almost any temperature above freezing), making the average North American home an ideal place to inhabit. They have a reputation for living in dirty or unkempt cities; where poor sanitation environments may create their ideal living conditions.
These insects will inhabit locations in which garbage, rotting organic substances, or animal feces are openly available. This makes them particularly undesirable when they enter human homes. Flies are attracted to dead animal carcasses and can populate an area within just a few hours of animal or even a human death. They often live close to decaying meat, feces or rotting food – many of which can be located in garbage cans or depositories. Common dwellings for flies can range from dumpsters to farm stables and everything in between.
Life Cycle of Flies
Flies progress through life in a four-stage life cycle. These four stages include the egg, larvae and pupa before finally reaching adulthood. The birthing process beings with the laying of eggs. The female will often choose where to lay her eggs based on the amount of food surrounding the area. Eggs are laid near the food source to ensure instant nutrition is available once the larvae hatch. In some species, the eggs hatch no more than 24 hours after being laid. Other species will hatch within the female and emerge as larvae. Like the egg stage, the larvae stage is also very short.
Most larvae, more commonly known as maggots, will spend four days eating and storing nutrition for their pupal stage. Stumbling upon maggots in a carcass or a pile of garbage is solid evidence of eggs that have recently hatched and that will soon become adult flies.
After the larvae have stored enough energy from their post-hatching feast, they will abandon the food source in search of a dry and dark place to pupate. The pupa stage is the third stage in the fly life cycle. During this time, the insect will create a cocoon-like casing in which it will transform from a legless and wingless larvae into a fully matured adult fly with wings and six legs. Life expectancies vary among the species but can last from anywhere around a week up to several months. Seldom do flies live beyond a year.
Differentiating between genders amongst flies can prove challenging, but there are some very distinct characteristics of each. Male flies typically have larger eyes that are closer together than those of the female. The eyes can be located on the top of the flies' head. Females typically measure larger than the males. Uniquely, the females also have the ability to extend their abdomens in order to lay their eggs.
Flies and Humans
While flies do have certain merits, their qualities are significantly overshadowed by the health risks they pose to humans. These insects do their part in the pollination of many plants that are a food source for humans. Flies also serve as a food source for other animals, including lizards, frogs and birds. Yet, negating the positive aspects they offer to the world, flies have a tremendous potential for carrying and passing deadly diseases. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates that flies contaminate or destroy up to $10 billion worth of agricultural crops each season.
With more than 100,000 types of flies living around the globe, they certainly outnumber humans and most other kinds of insects. It is estimated that for every fly seen by the human eye, there are 16 more flies hiding in the shadows. A single pair of these insects has the ability to produce one million offspring in as little as six to eight weeks' time.
Research on these disease-carrying insects shows that a single fly can host up to 33 million microorganisms within its abdomen. Most disturbing are the approximate half-million microorganisms that exist on the outside of its body, wings and legs, transferring to literally every surface it comes in contact with. The common housefly alone is capable of spreading 100 different types of pathogens that manifest themselves as disease within humans and animals alike including: cholera, typhoid fever, dysentery, hepatitis, tuberculosis and infantile diarrhea.
The common housefly that you let land on all your things actually can carry over two hundred and fifty pathogens and parasites. You share your food with the flies and intern they give you diseases. That doesn't sound very fair to me. Level the playing field, read our fly control page and learn about bait traps and sanitation techniques.
Fly Scientific Name: Diptera
Flies are categorized in the Animalia kingdom under the phylum Arthropoda. These creatures are classified as insects within the order of Diptera. Their name is derived from the Greek words di ptera meaning “two wings.” The super-family of flies called Hippoboscoidea, however, includes flies that have a second set of smaller wings.
There are many families and super-families of the Diptera species. The order itself is comprised of around 240,000 different types of creatures including gnats and mosquitoes. Only around half of these creatures have actually been named, described and classified. This order has the largest effect on humanity and world ecology of any of the insect orders, as most carry and transmit numerous infectious diseases to humans and animals alike and often act as pollinators.