Description: Widely distributed throughout the world, the common house fly (Musca domestica) is one of the most prevalent of all insects, which can make fly control difficult. Adults are strong fliers, and can travel up to 20 miles, although they are found primarily within two miles of the larval food site.
When feeding, house flies regurgitate liquid from the stomach to dissolve food, then use their sponging mouthparts to suck it up. They leave fecal spots, or “specks,” where they have walked, and in this way may transfer disease organisms to humans and animals. In rural areas, flies can be a nuisance when they gather on the outside walls of homes and buildings on summer evenings.
House fly adults (1/6 – 1/4 inch long) are dull gray in color with reddish-brown eyes. They have two membranous wings and four dark stripes down the middle section of their body (thorax). Females are usually larger than males and can be distinguished by the space between their eyes, which is almost twice the distance as in males. The larval stage (3/8 – 3/4 inch), also known as a maggot, is soft, cream-colored and worm-like. They are typically found around rotting organic matter, such as manure piles or garbage cans and are somewhat carrot shaped.
Note: House flies are known to spread diseases such as conjunctivitis, typhoid fever, tuberculosis, anthrax, cholera, diarrhea and dysentery.
Life Cycle: Females deposit 2-21 egg masses, each containing about 130 white eggs in manure or fermenting vegetation such as grass clippings and garbage. Hatching takes place in 10-24 hours; the young maggots become fully grown in 3-7 days, crawl to the margins of the breeding material and pupate. The pupal stage may vary in length considerably, but in warm weather can be about three days. When adults emerge they begin mating immediately. An entire life cycle; egg, larva, pupa to winged adult may occur in 6-10 days under warm, moist conditions. Adults may live an average of 30 days. During warm weather 2 or more generations may be produced per month.
Control: Sanitation is the most effective and important step in controlling house flies. Dry and wrap organic waste before placing it in the garbage can. Seal garbage cans with tight fitting lids. Screen windows and doors to keep pests out. Use indoor fly traps or sticky tape to control pests inside the house. Keep the Big Stinky outdoors to reduce the number of adult pests during warm weather. Follow proper manure management practices to reduce populations in animal facilities such as stables and kennels. Fly parasites are small, harmless (to humans and animals) beneficial insects that nature has programmed to attack and kill flies when the pest is in its immature pupal stage. For best results, release 500 parasites per large animal (horse, cow, etc.) or 5 parasites per cubic foot (manure or compost pile). If pest populations become intolerable, spot treat with botanical insecticides as a last resort.
Tip: Plain boiling water is an excellent (and inexpensive) way to kill maggots in garbage cans.