Flies: Everything you need to know about Flies in Australia

Picture this, you’re sitting outside in the beautiful warm, summer weather and fly starts buzzing around. You try and swat the flies away from the delicious BBQ you’ve just cooked, or the drinks you’ve just poured or hastily swat the flies away from the kids and yourself. It’s something every one of us can relate to, right? Keeping flies away becomes seriously hard work, doesn’t it? How about we have a bit of a discussion about all things Flies, and see if we can come up with a reason as to why they are so determined to hang around?

Let’s get straight into it. Flies are members of the Diptera family. The word ‘Diptera’ originated from the Greek words, two (di) and wings (ptera). Flies have one pair of wings (i.e., two wings), while all other flying insects have two pairs of wings (i.e. four wings).

In Australia, there are roughly 30,000 species of flies. Way more than you imagined right? Let’s have a quick read about the most common species of flies found in Australia.

House Flies

House flies are common insects found in homes all around Australia. These small, flying insects are found wherever humans are present. This is because humans have everything house flies are after! Think food, faeces, rubbish, and other sources of organic matter. Humans also carry sweet sweat, salt, and other nutrients that flies adore. This means a never-ending battle to keep these annoying little pests from landing on, or near you!

While house flies are known for being a huge nuisance, they are also known for spreading various diseases and spreading them fast. House flies regurgitate and defecate each time they land. They try with all their might to land on food or food sources, but if they can’t, they will land on any surface, hence the easy contamination and transfer of disease pathogens. House flies have been known to carry pathogens that can cause serious illness such as Salmonella, and spread diseases such as tuberculosis, cholera, and typhoid fever.

House flies prefer to breed in warm, humid environments that are rich in organic matter. Rubbish, faeces and other sources of rotting organic matter make perfect breeding grounds. House flies breeding cycle looks like this: starts with an egg, then develops through a larva phase, a pupa phase and finally, into an adult. In ideal conditions, the cycle from fertilized egg to adult spans 7-10 days. Keep in mind, a female fly can lay up to 150 eggs in one batch! They typically lay 5-6 batches in their lifetime.

House flies can live up to 28 days!

Blow Flies

Blow flies are commonly found near decaying organic matter. They are most attracted to dead animals, rubbish and other rotten, organic matter sources. Strangely enough, blow flies are actually an important part of the ecosystem. This is because they are one of the first insects to arrive at a dead animal, so they help break down the remains. Here’s an interesting fact: they also play an important role in forensic entomology, which is the study of insects in a criminal investigation. They play a vital role as a time of death can be estimated by the timing of the blow fly’s presence on a dead body. I have to say, that is pretty cool!

Blow flies are very similar to house flies, in that they too can spread diseases. They are known to carry pathogens which can cause food poisoning and other illnesses. They are also very capable of spreading diseases such as anthrax. Anthrax is a very serious bacterial infection that can be contracted by consuming or handling infected meat or other animal products.

The breeding cycle of a blowfly is identical to the house fly. Their life cycle consists of egg, larval, pupal and adult stages. They typically lay 5 to 6 batches in its lifetime.  Blow flies generally only live for 3-4 weeks.

Drain Flies

Drain flies are small, winged insects that are commonly found near sources of stagnant water. Drain flies have also been referred to as filter fliers, moth flies, sewer flies or sewage flies. They are commonly located near dirty drains, clogged drains, sewage systems and other sources of standing water.

Just like the house fly, they are most definitely considered to be a nuisance pest, they are almost always found in large numbers around drains and sinks. Thankfully, unlike the house and blow flies, drain flies aren’t known to carry or transmit diseases. That’s not to say that should be allowed to hang out around the drains in your home. They shouldn’t. Their presence is unhygienic, unsanitary, germy and quite frankly, plain annoying!

The drain flies breeding cycle is also identical to the house and blowflies. So, eggs are laid in damp environments, the eggs then hatch into larvae, which then turn into the pupal stage and then finally, the adult stage.

Drain flies can live up to two weeks. Interestingly, they only breed once in life, unlike all other flies.

March Flies

March flies – these little sucker’s bite! Yes, you read that right, March flies bite. Thankfully, these flies don’t carry or transmit any diseases so the most you’ll feel out of a bite is itching, irritation and swelling. Nothing too serious! Typically, it is the female March fly that uses its strong, sharp teeth to extract blood from people and animals. By doing so, the blood that is collected then assists in the reproductive process. While the female march fly will sink its teeth into any animal and person, interestingly, the male march fly feeds on only plant nectar!

Just like the house fly, blow fly and drain fly, the breeding cycle of a March fly is egg stage, larval stage, pupal stage and then the adult stage. March flies can lay up to several hundred eggs in a single batch, depending on the conditions it is laying its eggs. The March fly doesn’t lay as many batches as the house fly does, but it is still between 2-3 batches in its lifetime.

March flies can live for up to 4 weeks!

So, we’ve gone through the most common types of flies found around our homes. Let’s look a little deeper into the breeding process of a typical house fly.

To start with the breeding process, a House Fly will find a suitable location to lay her eggs. A suitable location includes rotting organic matter or animal faeces. Think of your outdoor garbage bin or your pet dog’s excrement in the backyard. Eggs are laid in batches of roughly 75 to 150 at a time. Which is..a lot, to say the least! Within 10-20 hours of those eggs being laid, they will hatch into larvae. Larvae are also known as Maggots. And we all know what those are, don’t we? Those white, legless icky things. Since the female housefly hatched the eggs in either rotting matter or faeces, the maggots will then feed on the neighbouring matter. This makes them grow rapidly. They molt several times before reaching maturity.

Once adult flies have been formed, they will emerge from their cocoon, and get straight into mating and reproducing. There’s no waiting around!

Here are a couple of interesting facts for you:

The maggot stage will typically last for 5-7 days. At this point, the maggots will crawl from the breeding site to find a sheltered, dry location to pupate. This stage, the pupal stage, can last for about 4 to 5 days. This is when the maggots transform into adult flies.

  1. Maggots have a dark spot on their butt. This is actually their breathing hole!
  2. Maggots are known to have cannibalistic tendencies. If another maggot becomes injured, it will be consumed by other maggots.
  3. Maggots have been used as a form of treatment in the medical industry for thousands of years. The treatment is called Maggot Debridement Therapy (MDT).

Please, don’t be alarmed by maggots though. Affordable Pest Control has some handy tips that can help you ensure your home is, and stays, maggot free. Of course, we highly recommend booking an appointment with us, so we can help you get this situation under control.

Tip 1. Garbage bins – these should be cleaned regularly with soap and water. Disinfectants should also be used to ensure any bacteria or eggs are killed.

Tip 2. Garbage bins should be kept in a cool, dry place. Bins should not be kept in direct sunlight, this will only attract the flies more.

Tip 3. Regularly dispose of garbage. Do not leave garbage sitting in your inside bin for long periods of time, especially during the hotter months.

Tip 4. The surrounding areas around your garbage bins should be kept clean, and free from any compost, organic food matter and food scraps.

Tip 5. Do not keep decomposing perishable foods/goods left out. Dispose of such things before maggots are able to access them.

Following these tips can help you reduce your chances of maggots forming in your garbage bin and other areas of your home.

We’ve talked about the icky side of flies and maggots, did you know there are actually positive benefits to having flies around? Let’s take a look at some of these benefits:

  1. Flies and Pollination: Flies are crucial in both natural habitats and farming operations of pollination. In natural environments, they are vital in the pollination of plants like wildflowers and shrubs. In agriculture, they assist in the pollination of crops such as fruits, nuts and vegetables by transferring pollen from one flower to another, resulting in the fertilization and production of seeds, which then turns into new plant growth and development. The role of flies is so important in preserving biodiversity and ensuring food sustainability.
  2. Flies and Decomposition: Flies are necessary decomposers in many ecosystems. They play a pivotal role in breaking down dead organic matter such as dead plants and plant waste, including leaves, bush or tree trimmings, and dead animals and their waste products. This helps recycle nutrients back into the soil, providing essential nutrients for new plant growth and supporting the food chain.  The presence of flies is actually a great indicator of a healthy ecosystem, as their role in breaking down dead organic matter helps prevent the buildup of decaying material, which can otherwise lead to the release of toxic gases and other pollutants.
  3. Flies and Food Source: Looking at the food chain, flies sit on both sides of it as they serve as both predators and prey. They are a valuable food source for numerous birds, fish, mammals, and other insects. Flies are a great source of protein for these animals and play an important part in their overall health. The presence of flies can allure predatory animals to the area, providing a food source for them and helping sustain a healthy balance in the ecosystem.
  4. Pest Control: Flies can assist in the pest management of other insects. The role they play is by feeding on aphids and other small insects that damage farming crops. By consuming these pests, flies help to naturally control their populations and protect the crop(s) from damage.
  5. Flies and Medicine: Flies have played an important role in medical research for a very long time. This is because they are easy to breed, are small and have a short lifespan, making them ideal for genetic and developmental studies. Fruit flies have been used to study the genetic basis of traits such as vision, behaviour and resistance to disease. As we’ve already discussed, house flies are known for spreading disease, so it only makes sense that house flies would be used to study the transmission of diseases! Interestingly, flies have been used to develop and test new treatments for a number of diseases, including neurodegenerative disorders and cancer.

There we have it; those are the benefits of flies. As you can see, they can be so important in our world.

Last on the discussion list for today is, ways to control fly infestations. Here is a quick list of pest control measures that can be taken:

  1. Sanitation: Always keep your home environment clean, and reduce possible breeding sites
  2. Physical barriers: fly screens are a great way to keep flies out, while still allowing fresh air to flow throughout your home
  3. Fly traps: are used to capture and kill flies. They come in various forms. Fly traps are used as a means of reducing fly populations.
  4. Chemical control: Insecticides and insect growth regulators can be used to kill flies and prevent them from breeding.

While you can try with all your might to rid your home of this unwanted, unruly fly infestation, it really is best to call a professional, reliable and trusted pest control company like us, Affordable Pest Control.

While pests may not be your thing, it is ours and we would be all too happy to take care of any issues you are having.