Our Wild Neighbors

Housefly

Musca domestica

An annoying cosmopolitan

Image of a Housefly, dried and mounted, seen from an angle with its head to the right and its wings spread.

Description of the animal

  • Member of the insect order Diptera. The Housefly has a single pair of wings, like mosquitoes.
  • Size at adulthood: five to eight millimetres.
  • Generally grey, with four black stripes on its thorax.
  • Its body is completely covered with hair.
  • Its eyes, which appear to be red, have up to 4000 lenses.
  • Its mouth parts are shaped like a horn. Two pads complete with pores found at the tip of its proboscis are used by the housefly to suck up its food.
  • The female is slightly bigger than the male.

Habitat and needs

  • Can see almost 360 degrees with its compound eyes. Frequently cleans its eyes with its front legs.
  • Perceives tastes and smells through receptors located on its legs. The Housefly frequently dusts these receptors off by rubbing its legs together. Its legs secrete a strong adhesive that makes it possible for it to walk on ceilings.
  • Breeds only once. The female stocks sperm for future eggs. The Housefly lays 500 to 1000 eggs at a time. Between May and September, six generations are born.
  • Finds shelter for winter months when cold weather arrives. It waits for the return of warm weather to resume its activities.
  • Ventures everywhere: airplanes, nuclear submarines, space stations....
  • Likes heat, sewers, manure, garbage, and the smell of humans!
  • Lives approximately 15 to 30 days. The day after an egg is laid, it emerges as a maggot. After three moults, it transforms into an orange pupa. When it emerges from its pupa, it is an adult and stops growing.

Relationship

  • The Housefly readily enters homes and sometimes flies a little too close to human ears; the fly swatter was invented in its honour.
  • Farmers dislike it. It can destroy up to 10% of crops.
  • The fly represents an essential part of many birds’ diet.
  • Its cousins from the Sarcophagidae family play a valuable role in police investigations. They make estimating the time of death of a person possible through observation of their developmental stage.

Living with them

  • To prevent invasion:
  • Use garbage cans that have a good lid.
  • Discard of garbage bags regularly.
  • Avoid leaving doors and windows open.
  • Make sure that screens are in good condition.
  • Rinse containers before placing them in the recycling bin, especially if they contained protein-rich or sweet substances.
  • Use adhesive tape or flycatchers as traps.

Participating cities where this animal has been seen