The constant buzzing. The irritating habit of finding food to land on. The infuriating tendency to take to the air as soon as you swat at them. There are plenty of things about the common housefly (Musca domestica) to dislike. But these little airborne invaders are more than just a nuisance. Even though they don’t bite or sting, houseflies can cause a world of hurt thanks to the countless dangerous bacteria and other pathogens they can carry.
Here’s a list of four things you should know about the common housefly, why you should try to get rid of them, and some ideas for ridding your home of the bothersome pests.
The Common Housefly Can Make You Very, Very Sick
Even without a painful sting or irritating bite, houseflies remain a danger to humans thanks to a few of their less appealing traits:
- Their breeding and developmental processes require the presence of many of the same things present in garbage, manure, and other sources of filth and disease.
- In order to lay eggs, females must feed on protein-rich foods and are attracted to many of the same foods we enjoy. Because their taste organs are in their feet, they don’t just land on and eat our food – they walk around on it for a while first.
- In the process of breeding and growing to maturity, houseflies pick up pathogens from the manure, waste, trash, or other breeding grounds.
- They then transfer those bacteria and other germs to our food when they land on them for a quick meal. (And they don’t hesitate to use the bathroom on any surface they land on, either.)
That’s why flies are considered hazardous around food preparation sites such as commercial kitchens, slaughterhouses, packing plants, and food markets. While here in the US, most fly-related illnesses tend to be mild gastrointestinal illnesses that cause a short-lived bout of diarrhea or some stomach cramping, the nasty little creatures can carry more serious pathogens such as Salmonella, E. coli, Shigella, Campylobacter, and others that can lead to dangerous and even life-threatening conditions:
- Food poisoning
- Typhoid fever
- A host of parasitic conditions, including worms
The Common Housefly Reproduces Quickly and Often
Houseflies have large families. While adult flies tend to only live for about 30 days, in that period, a single female can lay multiple clutches of 75-100 eggs, which will hatch within about 20 hours and grow to adulthood in as few as 21 days. Scientists have estimated that, under optimal conditions, a single pair of houseflies that begin to reproduce in early April could lead to multiple generations of flies totaling more than 191 quintillion insects – by the end of August. (That’s 191,000,000,000,000,000,000 houseflies – enough to cover every square foot of land on Earth with a layer of flies 18 feet deep!)
Fortunately, “optimal conditions” for that sort of fly explosion can never really exist.
The Common Housefly Always Sees It Coming
When someone we know is especially perceptive, we say they “have eyes in the back of their head.” Well, the common housefly really does have eyes on the back of its head. And on the front of its head. And on the sides.
The common housefly’s eye has about four thousand lenses in it for a total of eight thousand per insect, compared to our two. With lenses pointing in almost every single direction, a fly can see a 360-degree view around them. This view allows them to avoid predators and threats like an incoming flyswatter. Males even have a special section in each eye called a “love spot” specifically tuned to seeing, identifying, and tracking female houseflies, which allows each male housefly to be a small, female-seeking missile.
There Are Ways to Get Rid of the Common Housefly
The housefly is a common pest in every human settlement on the globe. Thanks to their prolific breeding ability, they rely on a biological strategy of producing massive populations to ensure that several members of each generation survive, a sort of zoological blitzkrieg. They can thrive in a wide range of conditions, survive in pupal stages for long periods, and are surprisingly tenacious little survivors once they reach adulthood.
Despair not, however – if you are suffering from swarms of common houseflies, there are ways to eliminate the pests. Here are some of our favorites:
- Do some deep cleaning. Flies love leftovers, garbage, animal waste, and pretty much anything else that’s disgusting. Keeping your house clean, picking up after your pets, and taking out your trash regularly (and storing it in a tightly sealed receptacle far away from your home’s doors and windows) will help prevent houseflies from settling in.
- Certain plants in or around your home, such as lavender, bay myrtle, rosemary, and lemongrass, can repel houseflies.
- Insect traps such as flypaper strips, ultraviolet light traps, bug zappers, and even a simple shallow bowl filled with a mixture of apple cider vinegar, sugar, and a drop of dish soap can significantly reduce your home’s fly population.
- Ensuring that your windows have intact screens, that doors are well-sealed and left closed as much as possible, and closing up any other cracks, crevices, or gaps that might allow flies to enter your home can keep the common housefly outside where it belongs.
- If an infestation is especially severe, you may need an exterminator to deploy more aggressive measures to rid your home of its housefly problem.
The Common Housefly Is an Unpleasant Houseguest – Let National Exterminating Clear the Air. Call Us: 478-922-1410.
Even without a bite or a sting, the common housefly is a danger to you and your family. If Musca domestica has moved in, let the experts at National Exterminating move them out for good. Call us today at 478-922-1410.