The housefly (Musca domestica) is often referred to simply as a “fly”. It is one of the most widely distributed insects in the world and can live virtually anywhere humans are present. It is considered a pest because it is capable of carrying and spreading many diseases.
Most houseflies are between 8-12mm in length and can be recognized by their fine hair-covered black bodies and a single pair of wings. Females are larger than males and usually have greater space between their eyes. Smaller flies are not necessarily younger, but rather likely received fewer nutrients during initial life stages. Houseflies are only active during daytime hours.
Part of the reason the housefly can spread disease so readily is because of a diet which consists of feces, rotten food, open wounds and animal flesh. Houseflies can only consume food in a liquid form. To do this, they spit acidic saliva on solid matter to predigest it and then suck it back in.
The housefly lifecycle begins as a female lays several batches of up to 150 eggs. Within 24 hours the eggs will hatch as maggots which survive by feeding on decaying organic matter for about a week. After that, the maggots attempt to find a cool, dry place where they transform into larvae called pupae and then into mature flies. Houseflies are capable of reproducing within 36 hours of emerging from the pupae and live on average 14-30 days.
- In cold climates houseflies can only exist in human habitations where artificial heat and human waste are provided.
- Houseflies can survive cold snaps during winter by hibernating; emerging again just a few days after a thaw.
University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences