They’re common, annoying and unsanitary. Flies carry all kinds of filth and disease with them on the surface of their sticky feet.
Around 12% of the known species of insects in the world are flies. Some of those species are actually considered beneficial because they prey on pest insects. However, most of the flies that are found near human and animal habitats are simply nuisances, commonly called "filth flies".
Flies are unsanitary
Flies breed and lay eggs in garbage, animal feces and decaying organic materials. They land upon any kind of filth and carry it with them because of the sticky surface of their feet. Flies also regurgitate their stomach contents on any surface where they land.
Flies can carry disease
Flies pose a threat to public health because they carry disease-causing organisms, viruses and bacteria. Flies are linked to the spread of more than 60 human and animal diseases including infectious hepatitis, conjunctivitis and salmonellosis. Fly management is an essential part of disease prevention among humans and animals.
Flies breed quickly
Flies seek moist organic matter -- manure, garbage and compost -- in which to lay their eggs. An adult female housefly may lay up to 2,400 eggs in her lifetime. The eggs can hatch into larvae (maggots) in a single day. In hot weather, it can take only eight days for the eggs to complete the life cycle and become adult flies.
The primary food sources and breeding sites for flies are garbage and pet feces. More than a thousand flies a week can be produced within a single garbage can. Horse stables and dog kennels can also contribute to a fly problem. The warmer the weather, the faster the flies are produced. Fly problems usually worsen during or just after hot spells.
Some tips for controlling the fly population around your home:
- Keep garbage in tightly wrapped plastic bags and containers with secure lids.
- If you are putting organic waste in the garbage can, wrap it in absorbent material such as newspaper to dry it out.
- If you are saving organic kitchen waste for composting, store it in sawdust to prevent odors from escaping.
- Make compost in a bin with a snug-fitting lid.
- When recycling plastic or glass containers, rinse them free of any remaining food or liquid before putting them outside. (Dirty beer bottles, for example, can attract flies because of the yeast remaining in the containers.)
Common Filth Flies
- Most common species
- Medium-sized, gray; 4 stripes on thorax
- Enters houses
- Breeds mostly outdoors in animal garbage and decaying organic materials
- Large; gray checkered abdomen; stripes on thorax
- Lay their living young on dead animals
- Similar to the house fly but larger
- Breeds mostly outdoors in meat and animal carcasses and under dumpsters
Green Bottle Fly
- Medium-sized; metallic green to bronze
- Seen on dog feces
- Among the first to visit decaying carcasses
- Breeds outdoors in trash containers; indoors in overlooked garbage, rotted food