House Fly: Distribution, Classification, Characteristics, Life cycle, Damage, and Medical Importance

House Fly: Distribution, Classification, Characteristics, Life cycle, Damage, and Medical Importance


The House fly, (Musca domestica) Linnaeus, is a common household and agricultural pest. Always associated with humans or human activity, this species can be discovered. On hog and poultry farms, horse stables, and ranches, it is the species that is most frequently encountered. House flies can carry disease-causing pathogens in addition to being an annoyance. The presence of close human habitations makes excessive fly populations potentially dangerous for the public’s health in addition to being an annoyance to field employees.


This widespread fly was first discovered in the steppes of central Asia, but it can now be found on every continent where people live, in all types of climates—from tropical to temperate—and in both rural and urban settings. It is frequently linked to animal waste, but it has adapted well to feeding on trash, making it widespread practically everywhere people dwell.


Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Arthropoda

Class: Insecta

Order: Diptera

Family: Muscidae

Genus: Musca

Species: M. domestica

Binomial name: Musca domestica


House flies are widely distributed, they can be found both in the wild and in areas where people live.


1. The average adult house fly measures 6 mm (0.25 inches) in length.

2. They have a grayish-black appearance, prominent bristles on the body, and four dark bands that run along the length of the thorax.

3. The abdomen typically has a black midline and a yellowish or grey colour. On the face, there are silvery streaks between the huge, reddish-brown eyes.

4. The rear wings, which come in two pairs, are smaller and altered for balance during flying.

5. On the warm sides of buildings, outcroppings, fences, and other notable structures, adults frequently congregate in the sun. Maggots that are the larvae of house flies can be found in organic waste, faeces, and garbage.

6.  House fly maggots may be discovered by homeowners in food that has been incorrectly stored or in garbage cans that have been left uncovered and not routinely removed.

Life cycle

The life cycle of a house fly includes the egg, larval, pupal, and adult stages. The eggs of the house fly are long, oval-shaped, yellowish-white, and around 1 mm (0.04 inch) in size. Up to 100 eggs can be laid in a cluster by adult females near a food supply. The eggs swiftly hatch into tapering, yellowish-white maggots without a head capsule. The blunt, flattened abdomen is at the end of the long, broad body. To aid them in chewing through their meal, maggots have bands of tiny, flat, teeth-like spines around their bodies. About 10 mm is how big mature maggots are (0.4 inches). Warmer temperatures can hasten the growth of larvae. Before becoming pupae, larvae develop and moult three times in the vicinity of their food supply. The developing fly is shielded by the strong brown skin of the pupae, which resemble long, oval capsules. Fly adults come out to mate and lay eggs. Every year there are several generations, but they are mostly constrained by the house fly’s life stages and the cold (Musca domestica). White eggs are at the top, followed in the clockwise direction by adult flies, mature maggots, and brown puparia.



 While eggs are piled in small groups, the white egg, which is around 1.2 mm in length, is laid alone. Each female fly can produce up to 500 eggs, which she can do in many batches of 75 to 150 over three to four days. The number of eggs laid depends on female size, which is mostly a product of the larval diet. The ideal egg-laying temperature range is between 25 and 30 °C. Several flies will frequently place their eggs next to one another, creating huge mounds of larvae and pupae. Eggs must stay wet to hatch.


Early instar larvae are cylindrical but taper toward the head and range in length from 3 to 9 mm. They are typically creamy yellowish. One set of dark hooks can be found on the head. The spiracular apertures are sinuous slits that are entirely enclosed by an oval black border, and the posterior spiracles are somewhat elevated. Within eight to twenty hours in warm temperatures, the legless maggot hatches from the egg. Maggots start to eat and grow in the material where the egg was laid right away. A fully formed maggot, measuring 7 to 12 mm in length, has a greasy, cream-colored look. The larva goes through three instars. The larva of house flies thrives in high-moisture manure. Although larval survival is highest around 17 to 32°C, the ideal temperature range for larval development is 35 to 38°C. At ideal temperatures, larvae mature in four to thirteen days, but at temperatures between 12 and 17°C, they take fourteen to thirty days. A great substrate for development is nutrient-rich, like animal manure. The amount of degraded manure required for larval development is quite minimal, and sand or soil containing a modest amount of it promotes successful belowground development. Once fully grown, the maggot can scurry up to 50 feet to a dry, cool location close to breeding material where it will change into the pupal stage.


The last larval skin, which is converted into the pupal case during the 8 mm-long pupal stages, changes colour as the pupa ages from yellow to red to brown to black. The pupa’s form, which is bluntly rounded at both ends, is very different from that of the larva. Pupae mature fully in two to six days at 32 to 37°C, whereas it takes them 17 to 27 days at around 14°C. The emerging fly uses a sac on the front of its head called the ptilinum, which alternately swells and contracts, like a pneumatic hammer, to break through the pupal cover and escape.


The female house fly is often larger than the male, measuring 6 to 7 mm in length. The rather broad distance between the eyes helps to distinguish the female from the male (in males, the eyes almost touch). The adult fly’s head contains sponging mouthparts and crimson eyes. Four little black stripes may be seen on the thorax, and the fourth longitudinal wing vein has a sharp upward bend. With a black midline and sporadic dark patterns on the sides, the abdomen is grey or yellowish. The male’s underside has a yellowish hue. The stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans (Linnaeus), and the false stable fly, Muscina stabulans, are frequently mistaken for the house fly (Germar). They are all related via blood.

Adults typically live between 15 and 25 days, but they can live for up to two months. They only last two to three days without food. The availability of suitable food, especially sugar, promotes longevity. They do not live long as adults if they have access to animal excrement, and they do live longer in cooler climates. Before they will reproduce, they must eat. Copulation might last as little as two minutes or as long as fifteen. Four to 20 days after copulation, ovulation begins. Manure alone is insufficient for female flies to lay eggs; they also need access to appropriate food (protein). Fortunately, flies’ enormous reproductive potential is never actually reached. According to calculations made by scientists, a pair of flies that start reproducing in April could, under ideal circumstances and assuming they all lived, be the progenitors of 191,010,000,000,000,000,000 flies by August. Even though the fly is dormant at night, it has been observed that they occasionally rest on roofs, beams, and overhead wires in buildings, as well as on trees, bushes, a variety of outside lines, and grasses. While most indoor populations tend to congregate in the ceiling area of chicken buildings, overnight outdoor fly aggregations in poultry ranches are primarily found in branches and shrubs. A Texas, US, study found that, in descending order, horse manure, human waste, cow waste, fermenting vegetables, and kitchen garbage were the best breeding sites. A different study, however, discovered that the fly abundance in buildings housing pigs, horses, sheep, cattle, and poultry differed, with swine facilities housing the most and poultry the least. Fruit and vegetable cull piles partially burned trash, and uncomposted manure is other highly preferred breeding locations.

Damage and Medical Importance

Large populations of flies frequently grow in chicken dung underneath caged hens, and this is a severe issue that needs to be controlled. Although Musca domestica does not bite, controlling this fly species is essential for maintaining human health and comfort in many parts of the world. The inconvenience and indirect harm caused by the possible spread of infections (viruses, bacteria, fungus, protozoa, and nematodes) linked to this fly are the most significant harms associated with it. Flies collect pathogenic organisms from waste, sewage, and other sources of squalor. They then spread these organisms to humans and other animals through their vomit, excrement, and polluted external body parts. The spread of flies from animal or human waste to food that humans would consume raw is particularly concerning. Additionally, after being eaten by flies, some infections can linger in the mouth or alimentary canal for a few days before being released and spreading when the flies urinate or regurgitate. Serious health issues can arise in places without plumbing, such as in open latrines, especially if there are nearby outdoor food markets, hospitals, or slaughterhouses. Salmonella, Shigella, Campylobacter, Escherichia, Enterococcus, Chlamydia, and numerous other diseases that cause illness are among the pathogens that are frequently spread by house flies. These flies have been associated with shigellosis and diarrhoea outbreaks most frequently, but they have also been linked to typhoid fever, dysentery, TB, anthrax, ophthalmia, and parasitic worms.


The term “filth flies” refers to a group of flies that includes house flies. Adult house flies consume the fluids found in decaying trash, carrion, and manure. Adults who have access to fresh foods intended for human consumption can spread the pathogens that cause dysentery, salmonella, and other food-borne illnesses from contaminated sources to those items. Although adult house flies won’t attack people or animals, most people find their presence to be extremely bothersome.


 Sanitation is crucial in the fight against filth flies. Use garbage bags and a trash bin with a tight-sealing top to quickly remove trash and animal faeces. Animals that have died should be properly disposed of right away. Boiling water can be used to kill maggot infestations in garbage cans as a low-cost and organic method. Installing sturdy, tightly fitting window and door screens will help to reduce the number of flies that enter dwellings. When flies are present inside the house, use a fly swatter or an aerosol spray to destroy them. Avoid using insecticides on food or eating utensils. Garbage should not be left outside the house to gather, and spills should be cleaned up right away. To treat the walls next to dumpsters or other fly breeding areas, use insecticides with residual formulations. Light traps might be practical outside, but they might also draw flies from a wider region.

Frequently Asked Questions

Question: Where do house flies lay eggs?

Ans: Each female fly can produce up to 500 eggs, moist, decaying organic material like trash, grass clippings, or feces.  which she can do in many batches of 75 to 150 over three to four days

Question: Do house flies bite?

Ans: No

Question: What do house flies eat?

Ans: House flies will consume anything, including food and faeces from both humans and animals.

Question: What kills house flies?

Ans: When flies are present inside the house, use a fly swatter or an aerosol spray to destroy them. To treat the walls next to dumpsters or other fly breeding areas, use insecticides with residual formulations.

Question: What colors do flies hate?

Ans: Yellow light

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