Flies can be a big nuisance to anyone and their constant buzzing around can really get on your nerves. For businesses, particularly those in the food and pharmaceutical industries, they can be a huge concern due to the impact they can have on consumer health.
However, flies can be quite fascinating creatures. Their breeding, feeding and even moving habits are quite different from ours and can actually be quite interesting (well, for me at least!).
Facts about flies
Below is a list of facts about flies you need to know.
1. House flies live on a liquid diet
Yes, that’s correct. Flies tend to live off a diet based on liquids. Why? Well, that’s just how they are built. See, they lack the mouthparts needed to chew food, so instead, they have to drink it.
How do house flies eat?
A house fly will regurgitate digestive juices onto solid foods and these juices break down the food into small pieces, allowing them to use their mouthparts, called proboscis, to drink the meal.
2.They can taste with their feet
Like butterflies, flies can taste food using their feet!
This is all down to taste receptors (chemonsensilla) being located on their lower legs and feet. When a fly lands on a tasty meal, which can be anything from animal faeces to your lunch, they will often have a wander around to give their next meal a good taste before consuming it.
3. House flies defecate… a lot
And they aren’t too bothered about where they do it either!
As you know, house flies like to live off a liquid diet. Because of this, their digestive system can move quite quickly, which means they defecate, quite a lot as well. it is speculated that house flies defecate every time they land, even if it’s on their next meal!
4. They can spread a range of diseases
Due to their feeding and breeding habits (more on that later) house flies come into contact with a range of harmful bacteria such as Salmonella and E.coli. Because of this, house flies will often aid the spread of these bacteria passing them onto us by contaminating things, such as food and cooking utensils.
5. House flies can walk upside down
Let’s face it, you probably already knew this one.
The anatomy of a house fly enables it to walk and climb on most surfaces no matter if it’s horizontal, vertical, or even upside down.
This is due to each foot containing two fat foot pads (called pulvilli) which contain tiny hairs that produce a glue-like substance made of sugars and oils which provides them with excellent grip, perfect for scaling any surface.
6. Flies are able to see behind them
That’s right, house flies can see behind them and it’s all to do with their amazing eyes.
Unlike you and I, house flies have compound eyes. These intricate eyes provided them with nearly a 360-degree field of view, which allows them to see behind themselves. Unlike ours, the eyes of a house fly don’t move. Being able to see in all directions allows them to navigate whilst also be on the lookout for danger.
7. The lifespan of a house fly isn’t that long
On average, the life cycle of a house fly only lasts for around 30 days, which means they don’t live for long at all.
However, in their short lifetime, they manage to accomplish quite a lot. House flies can lay up to 500 eggs in their lifetime which are usually in batches of around 75 to 150. So, although they don’t live long, an infestation can quickly arise through new generations.
8. House flies have amazing reaction times
Ever wondered why it’s so difficult to swat a fly? Well, it’s pretty much down to their quick reaction times and their agility.
House flies are able to process what they see and react accordingly at amazing speeds. To put things into perspective, our brains process around 60 images a second, whereas a fly can process around 250 in a single second.
9. They have unhygienic breeding habits
House flies aren’t really fans of rushing to the hospital to give birth. Their chosen method is rather disgusting as well.
House flies will lay their eggs on items such as faeces, rotting carcasses and decaying fruit. Why is this? Well, it’s mainly to provide the larvae (maggots) with something to eat when they hatch.
10. Male house flies are constantly looking for a date
Remember, in Fact 6, when we discussed the compound eyes of a fly? Well, it also plays a role in how house flies find a partner.
Studies show that there’s a specific region within the eyes of a male fly called the ‘love spot’. It is pretty much used for detecting and chasing female flies. This ‘spot’ is located within the dorso-frontal region of their eyes. This is typically used to detect small target motion, however, males also use it to stay “locked onto potential mates during aerial pursuit”