By Dr. Stuart Mitchell
As significant public health pests, House flies, Musca domestica (meaning “household fly”), Order Diptera, Family Muscidae, are urbanized, synanthropic (together with humans), and multivoltine (many generations or turns in a year).
Females typically mate once (functional monogamy), ovipositing 100 to 150 eggs (700 to 900 per lifetime) within high quality organic matter (40 to 70% water). Eggs are about 1 mm, whitish, extended, with eclosion (emerging from the egg shell) occurring in 8 to 72 hours.
Feeding within warm moist organic substances, Cyclorrhaphous (circular seamed) larvae develop through three instars, reaching 10 to 12 mm in length. Within a remote microxeriscape (dry area), pupation requires 3 to 30 days.
Adults are 4 to 8 mm in length, a greyish body, and 4 longitudinal lines on the thorax. Males express two yellowish small areas at the base of the abdomen. Females release a sex pheromone (muscalure-mediator of intraspecies behavior) toattract males.
House flies are diurnal (activity during daylight) and somewhat less active in artificial light. With significant anatomy and physiology devoted to visual perception, 50% of a fly’s cephalon (head) is anatomous with compound eyes and 70% of a fly’sbrain required for visual processing.
Adults take flight at 51°F to 89°F, become inactive below 44°F, and die at 32°F. With both power and steering thoracic muscles, a fly can see an approaching threat, estimate its position, and initiate a pattern to fly away with a wing beat of 220 times per second. With a very high angle, wings create a structure called a leading edge vortex. This vortex allows a fly to possess amazing aerodynamic capacity at a speed of only about 4.5 mph.
House flies cause significant stress and mechanically vector many pathogens (foodpoisoning and diarrhea). Attracted to diseasecontaining materials, adult flies move pathogens to human food (a significant source of contamination).
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