Friday Fellow: Housefly

by Piter Kehoma Boll

Today we are going to look closer at one of the most widespread insects, the housefly, Musca domestica. There is a good chance that one of them is right now in the same house, perhaps in the same room, as you.

Have you ever wished to be a fly on the wall?

Have you ever wished to be a fly on the wall? Foto by Muhammad Mahdi Karim.*

The housefly originated somewhere in the Middle East, in the Arabian Peninsula or Northeastern Africa, and spread all over the world most likely due to human influence. It is the most common fly species in human residences, measuring 8–12 mm in length as adults, females being slightly larger than males. The thorax and the legs are dark and the abdomen usually light yellow. The eyes are large and red and the antennae are very short.

When mating, a male housefly mounts a female and injects his sperm, the copulation taking from a few seconds to some minutes. The female rarely mates more than once, storing the sperm to use it repeatedly. She lays about 500 eggs in her lifetime, usually in batches of about 100 eggs. Larvae hatch from the eggs within a day and feed on almost any kind of decaying organic material. The larval stage takes from 2 to 5 weeks to be complete, depending on the temperature: the higher the faster.

A housefly larva. Photo by Pavel Krok.*

A housefly larva. Photo by Pavel Krok.*

As houseflies are closely associated with humans and feed on a variety of substances, they are responsible for spreading several diseases, including many bacteria, protozoans, parasitic worms and viruses. Insecticides have been the most common way to control housefly populations, but some strains have become immune to some of the most common inseticides, such as DDT.

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Marquez, J. G.; Krafsur, E. S. 2002. Gene flow among geographically diverse housefly populations (Musca domestica L.): a worldwide survey of mitochondrial diversity. Journal of Heredity, 93 (4): 254–259.

Wikipedia. Housefly. Available at: < >. Access on October 11, 2012.

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These images are licensed under a GNU Free Documentation License.

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Filed under Entomology, Friday Fellow

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