The Housefly

The word ‘pest’ is almost synonymous with the insect housefly. House flies (Musca domestica) are one of the most common pests in the world. These winged insects have been around for almost 250 million years, and are considered a nuisance worldwide. Their annoying buzzing sound and ability to carry pathogens and germs make them an insect you definitely don’t want anywhere around your house. They are found on every continent, and almost every human on earth has encountered house flies once in their life.


Everyone has seen a housefly, but very few of us can accurately identify them when compared to other flies. Here are some physical characteristics of the common housefly-

  • Grey to black in color
  • One pair of membranous wings
  • Body length is from 6mm to 7mm
  • Fine hairs on the body surface
  • Wingspan varies from 13mm to 15mm
  • Large, red compound eyes
  • Females have larger wings than males
  • Males have longer legs than females
  • Two short antennae

Appearance and Behavior

Common Housefly

Common Housefly. By Joejhalda – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, 

These greyish insects are found in almost every human space. House flies are extremely adaptive insects that have adjusted to the climate of every continent on the planet. Flies fly quite fast and are often hard to swat away. They are able to see human movement in slow motion, and so can dodge any swatting hand. House flies follow a liquid diet and suck up fluids using capillary action through their sponge-like mouth part. Their saliva dissolves solid food, to assist ease of consumption.

Female house flies usually mate just once and can produce 500 eggs in her lifetime (she stores sperms for future use). Male flies mate multiple times. House flies live for about a month, but can produce enough progeny flies to start a full-blown infestation.

House flies consume almost anything – from dead matter to sugary substances. Adults are primarily carnivores, but they also consume other food items like sugar, milk, and fruits. They can even feed on blood at times. House flies tend to follow human settlements, as the latter provides them with ample food sources.

House flies hibernate during the winters. During the warmer months, they are seen flying around searching for food. They are not active during the night and choose to rest on ceilings, walls, trees or long grass. They mate and lay eggs during spring.

Signs of housefly infestation include the physical sighting of the flies. If you see bunches of flies gathering around your dustbin, in your kitchen, near your pantry or near sewage lines you can be sure that there is large housefly population nearby. House flies are particularly attracted to exposed food items and filth.

House flies are known to be carriers of various diseases and can spread these diseases by contaminating food.


Exposed sources of food and filth are two primary reasons why house flies are infesting your house. If you have a dirty house, especially a dirty kitchen, then there are high chances that you will get flies. House flies are often seen buzzing around dustbins, and can even settle themselves on food that has been kept out for a long period of time. They are often seen in restaurants as well. Dense vegetation around a building can also host a lot of flies, and so the building will be more vulnerable to a fly infestation. Flies can easily enter the house through cracks, pipe openings and simply open doors and windows.


Preventing house flies is the best way to avoid them. Keeping your environment clean is a primary way to prevent the entry of house flies. Meshes and screens can be used to stop the flies from entering through windows and doors. Clear the trash out regularly, as it is a breeding site as well as feeding site for the house flies. Keeping the ceiling fan on is a good way to stop the flies from easily flying into the room.

House flies can be eliminated using store-bought insecticides. Many restaurants use an ultraviolet light trap that electrocutes the flies. Fly sticky traps can be used to catch house flies as well. Insect bats can also be used to zap the insects.

Housefly Facts

  • House flies have chemoreceptors on their legs. This allows them to identify foods, such as sugars, by simply walking over them.
  • Flies are able to walk up walls and other surfaces using Van der Waals forces.
  • The lifecycle of a housefly can be completed in 10 days in ideal conditions
  • House flies are believed to have originated from the Middle East

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