While the house fly is one of the most familiar of all insects, it is rare that an individual can separate it from other common flies. Adult house flies are about 1/6″ to 1/4″ long, and the female is usually larger than the male. They are a dull gray and their thorax possesses four narrow black stripes.
As its name suggests, the house fly is often the most commonly encountered species of fly in the home. Adults typically live 15 to 25 days, but can live up to two months with their longevity being enhanced by the availability of suitable food, especially sugar. However, without food, they can survive only two to three days. Female flies need access to suitable food (protein) to allow them to produce eggs, and manure alone is not adequate. An adult female will lay between 350 to 900 eggs in her lifetime. Their eggs are laid in a moist area that has a food source nearby and white, footless maggots emerge from the eggs in 8 to 20 hours. These small maggots begin to feed immediately and will then pupate into adult house flies anytime within several days, up to eight weeks. The potential reproductive capacity of flies is tremendous, but fortuitously it can never be realized. Scientists have calculated that a pair of flies beginning reproduction in April, under optimal conditions and if all were to live, would produce 191,010,000,000,000,000,000 flies by August. If each of these flies were to occupy 1/8 of a cubic inch, they would cover the entire earth to a depth of 2 1/2’. While the house fly is a considerable nuisance, it is far more concerning as a mechanical vector for disease organisms. Its body is covered with fine hairs and bristles which readily pick up dirt particles. The house fly feeds on fecal material, vomit or garbage, and then after which it could alight on human food. House flies can transmit Salmonella bacteria which are responsible for food poisoning and gastric infections. They can also transmit at least 60 other diseases to humans, which include: typhoid fever, dysentery, cholera, tuberculosis, and anthrax.
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