What’s the Difference?
This article will provide a brief comparison of each fly to help you identify what is bugging you.
|House Fly||House Fly|
|Cluster Fly||Cluster Fly|
Adult blow flies are metallic green with hints of copper. They are slightly larger than true house flies, measuring about 6mm long. The pests have hairy backs and are strong fliers. Their larvae have a smooth, worm-like appearance and are white to yellow in colour. Pupae have reddish-brown shells.
Also known as blue or green bottle flies, blow flies enter homes to hibernate during the winter or spring months. Their reproductive process takes place in animal carcasses or fresh wounds. In fact, forensic scientists often use blow flies as indicators for how long an organism has been dead.
Because of their breeding habits, they are likely to inhabit areas near livestock or other groups of animals. These scavengers also live around garbage and excrement.
The pests feed on dying or decaying animal and plant matter or garbage. Immature larvae have black mouth hooks for tearing through the flesh of animals they hatch onto.
Adult females are able to lay up to 500 eggs in clusters of 20 or more. They reproduce on dead animals, injured live animals, or exposed meat. Blow fly eggs become full-grown larvae within several days, and then enter the pupal stage for anywhere from one to three weeks.
Problems Caused by Blow Flies
Infestations often indicate and add to the unpleasantness of sewer issues in homes or rotten meat in the refrigerator. People who live on or near farms may have more issues with blow flies, as they are attracted to animals. In any case, the pests’ presence typically points to some kind of larger, environmental problem.
Detection/Signs of Infestations
These pests pose little danger to humans, but can be a problem for pets. Flies can cause painful swelling and even ulcers as blow flies feed on flesh. Eventually blow fly larvae poison the blood of their prey, which leads to death. Pets that seem to be agitated, especially those that are older, ill, or injured, may have a blow fly infestation.
Any injured or dying wildlife that wanders onto the property can attract blow flies. Family pets with an illness or buried in the yard may entice the pests as well. Be sure to follow guidelines for burying animals properly to avoid attracting blow flies and other scavengers.
Houses with a fly infestation likely have other wildlife that is dead or dying nearby. Since wounded animals and carcasses may pose health risks to people, a sudden influx of blow flies should be a cue to do a thorough home inspection.
Typically less than half an inch in length as an adult, the hairy house fly boasts a grayish color with yellow accents or spots and four dark, narrow stripes along the back of its thorax. Two reddish, compound eyes made up of approximately 4,500 simple eyes afford the house fly a wide range of vision to the left and right as well as to the front and overhead. The house fly’s dual antennae between its eyes detect smell. Mouthparts with sponge-like ends are used to slurp up liquid foods. Though Musca domestica displays two sets of wings, the pest only uses one translucent, veiny pair for flying. The other much smaller set, often called halters, are used for balance during flight. When observed closely, the male house fly shows eight abdominal sections, which are generally gray or yellow in color. The larger female exhibits five of its nine abdominal sections, revealing the other four segments only when laying eggs.
Researchers say the house fly, or Musca domestica, originated in the prairies of Central Asia before migrating to every populated continent in the world. Historically, the pest found most of its sustenance in animal feces and decaying matter. Over time, the house fly developed an attraction to human food and waste and is now found anywhere humans dwell. Residents often see house flies feeding on garbage and other food sources inside and outdoors, especially during warmer seasons. The house fly’s inclination to feed on a wide variety of matter and food items poses potential health risks to humans, as the pest often carries harmful, disease-causing pathogens from one food site to another.
The typical lifespan of a house fly ranges from 15 to 25 days, and the pest spends most of its time on or around food sources. In some cases, house flies travel up to two miles to find feeding ground. Besides eating, flies also tend to reproduce on or around food sites. After locating desirable feeding grounds, the house fly vomits onto its new food source. The saliva liquefies the food, which makes ingestion possible. During the night, flies enter a state of inactivity, or torpor, due to the lack of light. Homeowners may see flies resting on walls, ceilings, or other ledges during darker hours. In terms of climate, house flies generally move slower or cease activity altogether in temperatures below 59 degrees Fahrenheit. House flies often lay eggs in manure or animal carcasses when the temperature drops. When the eggs hatch, the larvae overwinter, feed on waste or decaying matter, and mature slowly in anticipation of warmer weather.
What does a house fly eat?
The house fly’s attraction to feces, blood, decomposing fruits or vegetables, and decaying animals makes its alternative name, filth fly, both fitting and true. The pest also feeds on other foodstuffs like milk, sugar, and raw or cooked meat. In fact, house flies with access to sugary foods and water tend to live longer than house flies that consume only manure or dead animals.
As mentioned above, food and reproduction go hand in hand when it comes to house flies, as the female deposits her eggs in a food source one to three weeks after mating. The reproduction process starts when the male, 16 hours or older, finds a female, 24 hours or older, and invites her to mate through a rigorous courtship ritual. If the female accepts the invitation, the flies mate. House flies can mate during flight or after landing. The male moves on to mate with numerous females throughout his life cycle. Females only need to mate once to lay a lifetime’s worth of eggs and may refuse males who try to copulate after initial reproduction. The female house fly must find water and nourishment before laying eggs. When the female is ready, she lays several batches of approximately 100 eggs, three to four days apart. Females may lay up to 500 eggs in a lifetime. In ideal temperatures, the eggs may hatch in as little as six hours, and the house fly fully matures within five days.
Problems Caused by House Flies
Unlike some other species of flies, such as horse flies, black flies, or deer flies, house flies do not bite. Besides causing discomfort or queasiness when spotted in large numbers around trash or dung, the annoying house fly may transport disease-causing organisms from one food source to another. Due to its interest in both human food and animal waste, the house fly may deposit feces and other contaminated material on surfaces and foodstuffs by vomiting or defecation. The pest may further spread diseases mechanically, as it often carries microorganisms on its hairy legs and body. Eating food contaminated by flies may cause illnesses such as typhoid fever, cholera, dysentery, and diarrhea. The house fly may also carry various parasitic worms.
Signs of Infestation
Homeowners may see house flies near windows or hovering around uncovered food indoors. House fly sightings on ceilings or walls may indicate nearness of a desirable food source. The house fly continues to breed, lay eggs, and mature as long as a food source is available.
The best way to prevent house fly infestation is to find and remove potential food sources as well as seal off potential entry points into the home. Simple house fly prevention tactics include routinely cleaning bathrooms, kitchens, eating areas, and trash cans. Keeping leftover food in airtight containers and removing trash from living spaces on a regular basis is also helpful. Garbage should always be sealed in a bag, if possible, and taken outside. Covering outdoor garbage cans with a lid may decrease certain odors that flies find attractive. Homeowners with pets ought to frequently clean up animal feces from yards or sidewalks around the house, as well. Commercially available fly traps and swatters may prove useful in removing mature house flies, but eliminating the food source remains the only way to keep the pest from reproducing.
What does a cluster fly look like?
Cluster flies can be mistaken as common house flies. Slightly larger than house flies, cluster flies measure about three-eighths of an inch long. Dull-gray in color, cluster flies can be distinguished by their black, checkered markings and golden-yellow hairs on the thorax. Though not regularly seen, cluster fly eggs are small, white, and oblong in shape.
A pervasive nuisance in homes and other manmade structures during the fall and spring, cluster flies overwinter to survive the drop in temperature. Cluster fly larvae are parasites of earthworms but tend to cause little damage outside of their parasitic behavior. Nevertheless, given their tendency to congregate in large numbers, cluster flies may require the attention of pest control professionals.
Cluster flies live outdoors until autumn when temperatures begin to drop. The insects then seek a safe place to overwinter until spring arrives. The pest often invades homes in search of shelter and tends to live in attics and wall voids.
What does a cluster fly eat?
During the larval stage, cluster flies feed on earthworms until they are ready to pupate. Adult cluster flies feed on fruit and nectar from flowers. The insects do not eat during the overwintering period.
The cluster fly reproductive process begins when the ground warms up in the spring. Female cluster flies leave overwintering sites to lay eggs in soil containing earthworms. Eggs hatch in several days, and parasitic larvae burrow into earthworms to complete their final stage of development. The larvae feed on the host for several days until they emerge as adults. When winter approaches, adult cluster flies seek shelter in dead trees, hedge rows, and the openings in man-made structures.
Problems Caused by Cluster Flies
Cluster flies do not pose any health risks to humans and cause no damage to the home. The insects are mainly a nuisance when inhabiting a home. By sneaking in through cracks and other openings, cluster flies will fly throughout warm, often inhabited, sections of the home and bunch around windows. Known to gather, cluster flies can be a serious annoyance when present in large numbers. The flies may also leave dark spots of excrement on surfaces they land on.
Signs of Infestation
Cluster fly infestation is apparent when multiple flies are spotted in the home. During the winter, the pests usually hibernate in attics and inside of walls to avoid the cold and will not be detected. When the home warms up, they can be spotted darting around the residence and grouping around windows.
The best prevention is to seal up any openings where flies may get in. Common entry points are cracks under baseboards and spaces between windows and door trim. Once a residence is infested, cluster flies can be extremely challenging to deal with, and the best remedy is to call a local pest control professional.