House Fly Facts, Identification, and Control
Scientific order: Diptera
Scientific name: Musca domestica
- Size: ⅛ to ¼” long, oval-shaped with six legs.
- Color: Dark grey or black with dark stripes on the top of their thorax. Distinctive bulbous red eyes.
Signs of Infestation
House flies are attracted to food sources, water, and light. Swarms of the flies are common around decomposing waste, where they can get both food and moisture.
When house flies are nearby, you may hear the telltale buzzing noise of their wings beating together. Listen for the sound around garbage, dumpsters, drain pipes, and light fixtures.
Treatment and Prevention
The best way to remove house fly infestation is to impede their ability to reproduce indoors. Do not allow organic material of any kind to accumulate around your building. Keep dumpsters clean and tightly sealed.
House flies enter buildings through small cracks around screens, frames, or utility lines. Find and seal these gaps to keep the flies out. Replace damaged screens immediately. Invest in screens for your ventilation systems.
Behavior and Diet
House flies can only actually ingest liquid food. They feed on solid food by regurgitating saliva onto it until the food liquifies. This process demands that flies seek out water for rehydration constantly.
House flies feed on any material that’s moist, soft, and easily accessible. They’re particularly fond of decaying organic material like grass or fermenting material like mold or alcohol.
House flies undergo a complete metamorphosis with egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. Under ideal conditions, this life cycle could complete in as few as seven days.
A single female house fly can lay up to 500 eggs over three or four days. These eggs hatch within eight to 20 hours. Larvae eat nearby food until they grow large enough to pupate. Metamorphosis takes two to 27 days. Flies emerge from pupae ready to reproduce.
- House fly lifespans largely depend on temperature. It may take flies several more months to mature in cold temperatures than it would during warm months.
- If they have enough heat and food, house flies may produce twelve or more generations in a single year.
- House flies are considered disease transmitters because they may touch feces or stagnant water before touching other food sources.
- Penn State Dept of Entomology House flies fact sheet
- University of Florida Dept of Entomology & Nematology House flies “Featured Creatures” sheet
- World Health Organization Water Health Vector control report “Chapter 6 - House flies”