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The Housefly

Updated: Apr 1, 2023

There are over 150 thousand species of fly, only a few are considered pests.

The housefly as we know it today appeared to have branched off the fly family tree around 50 million years ago.

Just like humans, houseflies have migrated to almost all four corners of the planet.

Adult flies are gray or black, have slightly hairy bodies, a single pair of wings, and red eyes. The eyes are set farther apart in the slightly larger female.

Female houseflies mate only once. She stores the sperm laying eggs in batches of about 100. Decaying food or feces is a favorite place for the female fly to lay her eggs. She will lay half a dozen batches of eggs.

In about a day the eggs hatch into small white larvae known as maggots. In less than two weeks you have a new housefly. Several days later the female fly is capable of reproducing repeating the cycle.

Adult flies normally live two to four weeks,but can hibernate during the winter.

Flies feed on liquid or semi-liquid substances. They also eat solid materials which they soften using their regurgitated saliva.

Because flies eat decaying food and feces they often carry disease carrying pathogens on their bodies and feces. The fly spreads those pathogens, contaminating food and causing illness in humans.

Research published by an international team of scientists puts flies and mosquitos into the same branch of the evolutionary tree.

According to the paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA, the mosquito and the housefly likely have a common ancestor. The split happened over 200 million years ago.

Dr David Yeates from CSIRO Ecosystem Sciences:

“The mosquito, March fly and common house fly are everyday members of these bursts of evolution, which occurred during unstable periods of Earth’s history when dramatic environmental change created new habitats for these ‘experimental’ flies."

There are 150 thousand species of fly, which accounts for 10% of all known species

1 Comment

Sherry Fulsom
Sherry Fulsom
Oct 18, 2021

Interesting. Who would have known all that. Very nice closeup photography. I wonder what they are good for. One very interesting thing I learned about was maggot therapy. The maggots are very helpful in eating infected flesh.

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