Hi, all! Perhaps it’s not too late to wish Happy Chinese New Year to all of you. In this entry, we will focus on flies biology, species, habits and behaviour. Flies is a worldwide pest and a major carrier of disease. Flies have two pairs of wings, one pair is used for flying. The other pair known as ‘halteres’ are tiny balancing organs that act like gryoscopes. These halteres enable them to fly with great agility

A robber fly with a very large haltere (inside yellow box).
Halteres are sensors that act like gyroscopes, providing information about the insect’s body rotations during flight

Flies represent a public health concern. They easily carry disease organisms from food or contaminated surfaces to humans such as Salmonella food poisoning, dysentery, typhoid fever, cholera, hepatitis, tuberculosis, poliomyelitis, parasitic worms, and many other pathogens. Some flies bite and feed on blood. For example, tsetse flies transmit sleeping sickness.

Sleeping sickness parasites found to hide under the skin carried by tsetse fly

Flies represent one of the largest pest problems faced by livestock producers. Livestock farms provide excellent breeding areas for flies due to large volume of animal waste produced each day. In such situation flies decrease production and quality of the products (eggs and meat).

All flies have complete metamorphosis with egg, larval, pupal & adult stages. Below is the life cycle of the common housefly, Musca domestica. Adult flies live for between one week and a month but reproduce very rapidly. Each female is capable of laying about 5,000 eggs in her lifetime. Eggs are laid into cracks, onto the surface of manure, or onto other moist substrates.

Life cycle of housefly, Musca domestica

Instead of mandibles, fly mouthparts have been modified into a proboscis for either sponging, sucking, or piercing and sucking. Housefly mouthparts are adapted for sponging up food. They regurgitate enzymatic secretions onto the food substrate to help liquefy the food so that it can then be absorbed by the sponging mouthparts. Houseflies have excellent vision due to their compound eyes and are mainly active during the day. Houseflies are very mobile so they can travel long distances to invade or re-colonise suitable habitats. As flies are very active, they have a high energy requirement and hence they favour a sugary diet.

There are several different species of flies that are considered as pests. Some of the main ones include:


  • 8-9mm long, dull grey with 4 stripes on the thorax. 4th wing vein sharply angled
  • Prefer animal waste, garbage and other decaying organic matter
  • Live for 1-7 weeks
Common housefly, Musca domestica

Flesh fly

  • 18-27 mm long, grey and black checkered pattern with 3 stripes on the abdomen
  • Prefer garbage, manure, and animal carcases
  • Live for 2-4 weeks
Flesh fly, Sarcophagidae

Blow fly

  • 16-18mm long, metallic blue or green colour
  • Prefer animal carcasses, garbage and manure
  • Live for 2-4 weeks
Common blowfly

Fruit fly

  • 3mm long, yellowish brown, hover around fruits
  • Prefer decaying fruits and vegetables as well as garbage
  • Live for 1-2 weeks
Fruit fly

Phorid fly

  • 3-4mm long, similar to fruit flies, humpbacked
  • Prefer decaying vegetation and animal matter
  • Live for 1-2 weeks
Phorid fly

Sewer fly

  • 3mm long, body and wings densely covered with long hairs
  • Prefer decaying organic matter, especially around drains and sewers
  • Live for 2-3 weeks
Sewer fly

So now you can differentiate flies species, their habits and behaviour! I hope with this information it can help and guide you in your pest inspection. If you have any queries on pest, please do not hesitate to contact us.

Thank you.

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is zureen.jpg
Puan Azureen Rafiee
(Entomologist/Field Biologist) at Sanicare Hygiene Services Sdn Bhd


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