What do House Flies Eat?
House flies are a pest that can make our lives a little more stressful. It is annoying when they land on us, and it is even more annoying when they land on our food.
They tend to love anything stinky, and you might be wondering what their favorite foods are so that you can eliminate things that might attract them. Let's explore flies and some things that you can do to keep them away from you.
House Fly Lifespan
There are about 100,000 types of flies around the world. All of them are similar in their lifespan and life cycle. Most of them only live about a month, but a lot goes on in that very short lifetime.
As a casual observer, it is difficult to tell the different types of flies apart. Scientists can tell which species a fly is by its physical attributes, habitat, and feeding habits. The common housefly is the most abundant in the entire world.
They are gray and about ¼ inch long with a wingspan of about ½ inch. Adults are Gray with four dark stripes running along the back of their bodies. Their bodies are slightly hairy, and they have large, compound eyes.
The female housefly mates only once in her lifetime and stores the sperm for later use. She then lays batches of about 100 eggs. They do this about five times during the month, so a female can lay about 500 eggs in the expanse of a month. They like to lay their eggs on anything smelly and rotten, including food scraps, dead animals, or excrement. They will even lay them in living animals and people, especially where there is an open wound.
These eggs will soon hatch into legless white larvae that we commonly call maggots. Maggots love warm, moist, dark places. Maggots grow for about two to five days and then transform into reddish-brown pupae that are about 3/8 inch long.
This is much the same way a butterfly transforms from a caterpillar to the lovely winged creature we adore. Fly pupae undergo a similar process, only they emerge as adult flies. The male house fly is sexually mature in about 16 hours, and the female is sexually mature in about 24 hours. They can hibernate during the winter and emerge in the spring to finish their life cycle and begin the next generation.
Adults feed on a wide variety of liquid and semi-liquid substances. When they encounter more solid food matter, they use saliva to soften it before sucking it up with their flexible proboscis. Their mouthparts are more like a sponge.
One interesting fact about flies is that they have organs that can sense different chemicals on their legs. They can tell if something has sugar in it just by walking on it. At the end of each leg is a pair of claws with add pads that ooze glue, which is why they have no problem walking up your walls. Yes, when they land on your food, some of it is left on the food.
House Fly Diet
When houseflies are indoors, they usually rest on walls, ceilings, floors, and anywhere else near a human food source. They love to rest near trash cans. Flies can travel about 5 miles in a single flight, so there is plenty of opportunities to feed on almost anything.
One of the reasons why flies are so bothersome is because of their feeding habits. When the fly lands on food, it vomits on it to dissolve it and transform it into a liquid to be sucked up. The problem is that in doing so, they contaminate the food. When they fly around, landing on dung and then your food plate, they have vomited and sucked up food from many different places.
Flies are not only annoying, but they are carriers of over 100 major diseases. These diseases include cholera, anthrax, dysentery, salmonella, tuberculosis, food poisoning and gastroenteritis, E-coli, typhoid, and a host of other diseases. When it comes to diet, the truth is that if it was once a living matter, it is on the fly's menu. They especially like things that are soft and easy to dissolve or liquid already.
How Long Do House Flies Live Without Food?
Because their diet is so varied, it is unlikely that a fly will go without food for any length of time in the wild. They can only live two or three days without food in a laboratory. Don't think you will starve them out because they have plenty of food sources around and will go elsewhere and come back to your house for seconds.
How to Get Rid of House Flies
One of the best ways to get rid of flies is to reduce things that attract them. This means basic housekeeping, like taking the trash out and keeping everything clean. It is important to protect eating utensils and food from flies when dining outdoors.
When it comes to keeping flies away, several plant-based insect repellents are available on the market. Most of them are intended for use on animals, such as horses and livestock. One of the ingredients that have been tested and found to work is neem oil. Other oils that were found to be effective in studies are:
- Lemon eucalyptus
- Clove oil
- Cassia (cinnamon)
- Citrus oils
As you can see, there are some natural oils and things that you can place around your home to help repel flies. The best option is always to try to eliminate things that would attract them in the first place, but this is not always possible.
The most important takeaway from this information is that you should avoid allowing flies to land on your food and then consuming it. Now that you know a little bit more about fly eating habits, you probably have more than enough motivation to try to keep these flying pests away.