Flies are insects with a pair of functional wings for flight and a pair of vestigial hindwings called halteres for balance. Many insects, such as the butterfly, contain the word fly in their name, but are not Dipterans. Also, the word “fly” is sometimes used colloquially and non-scientifically as a name for any small flying insect: the term “true fly” is sometimes invoked to make clear the insect being referenced is a Dipteran.
Flies have a mobile head, with a pair of large compound eyes, and mouthparts designed for piercing and sucking (mosquitoes, black flies and robber flies), or for lapping and sucking in the other groups.
Getting Rid Of Flies From Your Home
Non-biting flies, such as houseflies, are not only nuisance pests, but they are also responsible for transmitting diseases and contaminating food. For instance, flies are capable of contaminating food and transferring more than 100 pathogens, including malaria, salmonella and tuberculosis. Food contamination is one of the main reasons that fly pest control is so important.
If you have a fly infestation in your home, contact a pest professional promptly. They will be able to inspect your home, confirm the species and recommend a course of pest control to treat and get rid of the flies.
Because they have sponging mouthparts, most Flies cannot bite; however, they may play an important role in disease transmission to humans and animals. Flies can carry a number of disease agents which they pick up while feeding on animal feces, animal body secretions, or kitchen waste and which they can deposit onto human foods following contact with or feeding on these human foods. Flies are known to carry bacteria and viruses that cause conditions such as diarrhea, cholera, food poisoning, yaws, dysentery, and eye infections. Flies can also cause nuisance to homeowners by their persistent attempts to land on human foods or even humans themselves (they will readily feed on animal sweat and other body secretions). House flies also leave dark fecal and regurgitation spots on wall surfaces where they rest, and with a preference for resting on light colored surfaces, these spots can be quite noticeable when fly numbers are high.
Types of Flies
- House Flies
- Little House Flies
- Canyon Flies
- Face Flies
- Stable Flies
- Blow Flies
- Fruit Flies
- Horse Flies
The house fly is the most common fly found in and around homes. It has a worldwide distribution and is prominent in the United States. House flies are not only nuisance pests while buzzing around homes, but they are potential disease carriers. House flies have short lifespans, but they can quickly reproduce in large numbers, leading to large house fly populations if not identified and effectively controlled.
Little House Flies
Little house fly is not tolerant of high daytime temperatures and is, therefore, generally most numerous during the cooler spring and fall months in California. As temperatures rise in summer, populations of little house flies diminish unless developmental sites are protected from temperature extremes.
Canyon flies are an emerging urban pest in California. These are native flies that have existed in western North America for a very long time. There are seven related fly species within this complex, which collectively are called “canyon flies” due to their geographic association with natural canyons, particularly those within coastal and inland mountain ranges where oak trees dominate the landscape. While distantly related to the other Fannia flies mentioned above, these flies do not appear to develop in animal feces or fermenting green waste. Our best guess at present is that these native flies develop on moist decaying plant matter or leaf litter. However, one canyon fly species has become quite problematic in Southern California in recent years following the introduction of an exotic succulent ground cover plant called red apple which was first introduced into the United States in the mid-1980’s and is now widely planted in hillside communities for erosion control and fire protection. The decaying understory of red apple has proven to be an excellent developmental site for this fly species and canyon fly numbers can become incredibly problematic in communities where this plant is common.
Face flies are a problem particularly in rural areas of northern and coastal California where pastured cattle are present. The hotter, drier weather in inland Southern California and the southern San Joaquin Valley is not conducive to their development. Face flies require fresh cattle manure for development. The female face fly looks virtually identical to the house fly but male face flies have a distinctive orange-yellow colored abdomen. Like the house fly, it also has sponging mouthparts and cannot bite. However, face fly behavior is distinctive because they are specifically attracted to the eyes, nose, and mouth of cattle and horses.
The stable fly, sometimes called the “biting fly,” is a common fly that attacks people living in neighborhoods where livestock (e.g., horses, cattle) or livestock facilities are present.
Stable flies typically appear in mid-late spring, become severe in early summer, and decrease in numbers throughout the remaining summer months when daytime temperatures are high. These flies are similar in appearance to house flies, except that stable flies have a bayonet-like mouthpart (proboscis) protruding from the front of the head; and they lack the four dark stripes on the thorax that are indicative of house flies.
Blow flies are a group of fly species with similar life histories and behaviors. Adult flies in this group can be readily differentiated from other flies discussed in this publication by their coloration, which is a shiny, metallic green or blue often mixed with some copper color. The term “blow fly” comes from the association of many of these fly species with carrion (dead animals) on which some species will deposit their eggs; however, in the urban environment the most common developmental site for these flies is in human food waste, though accumulations of pet waste may also produce these flies.
Fruit flies get their common name from their small size and fondness of some fruits. Small fruit flies are nuisance pests, but may act as disease vectors. Fruit flies feed on decaying matter, especially fruits and vegetables.
Fruit flies are small pests that are commonly found in homes, restaurants and other facilities where food is processed. They are found on moist, decaying matter that has been stationary for several days.
Fruit flies are found in unsanitary conditions, so they are a potential heath concern, especially when present in health facilities.
Looking to get rid of fruit flies in the home? Fruit flies are best prevented through vigilant sanitation practices. To excercise proper fruit fly management, remove kitchen trash daily, and keep counter surfaces clean.
Horse flies likely received their common name because they are notorious pests of horses and other mammals. They are commonly found in both suburban and rural areas near bodies of water, which serve as breeding sites, and where mammal hosts are most abundant.
Adult horse flies are fast, strong fliers and capable of flying for more than 30 miles, though they generally do not disperse widely. They most often attack moving and dark objects. Horse flies often rest on paths and roads, especially in wooded areas, where they wait for potential hosts. Horse flies are attracted to light and will sometimes congregate at windows.
Horse flies are typically woodland or forest dwellers. Species usually feed during full daylight and are most evident on windless, hot, sunny days. In general, larvae develop in wet soil close to bodies of water.
Adult horse flies typically feed on nectar, but females require a blood meal before they are able to reproduce effectively. Female horse fly bites, especially in large specimens, can be quite painful because their mouthparts are used for tearing and lapping, as opposed to mosquitoes, which simply pierce the skin and suck blood. Female horse flies are also persistent and will generally continue biting a host until they either succeed in procuring their blood meal or are killed. They are even known to chase their intended targets for short periods of time. Some species are vectors of disease organisms but in the U.S. most horse fly-vectored diseases only involve livestock.
During outside activity, wear light-colored clothing and insect repellant to prevent horse fly bites. If they are entering structures, the best method of horse fly control is exclusion, including screening all doors and windows.
If you notice horse flies or experience their bites, contact a professional immediately to discuss how to get rid of the infestation through a proper course of pest control.