House Flies

Characteristics, Habits, and Geography

House flies are generally 3/16 to 1/4 inches in length, and have two translucent wings and a gray thorax marked with four dark stripes. Their diet consists of rotting organic matter, such as decaying food and flesh, feces, and mucus. House flies cannot consume solid food, so they often predigest their food by first spitting on it to dissolve it. They then ingest the food once it has become liquefied.

Female house flies can lay as many as 3 to 7 batches of eggs in a lifetime, for a total of approximately 500 eggs. Once the eggs hatch, they quickly develop into maggots: short,white, worm-like creatures that feed on rotting organic matter. They exist as maggots for approximately one week, after which they enter the pupa stage of their development. They inflate their skin, which becomes a reddish-brown cocoon. After 4-6 days, they then emerge as fully grown house flies. In this final stage of life, house flies can typically live between two weeks and one month.

House flies tend to gather in large groups, and are particularly active during the daytime. They prefer warmer temperatures, and in colder climates are therefore most likely to be found indoors. Nevertheless, house flies are present in nearly all parts of the world.

Damage Signs

House flies are almost universally viewed as pests. While their mere presence is annoying to most humans, house flies can also cause genuine harm. They are capable of carrying and spreading diseases, such as typhoid, cholera, salmonella, dysentery, tuberculosis, and anthrax, to name just a few. House flies tend to congregate in groups, and will buzz freely around food sources, so their presence is easy to spot.


To prevent house fly infestation, seal up garbage thoroughly. Homeowners who find their garbage infested with maggots should remove the garbage from the home immediately. Additionally, seal up cracks and small spaces through which flies can enter the home. Individual flies can be killed with fly swatters. Homeowners looking to remove larger number of flies may find that fly paper and fly traps are often effective methods of control. Homeowners with more serious infestation issues may wish to call in licensed professionals to spray insecticides throughout the home.

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