There are over 16,000 species of flies in North America. It’s estimated that for every fly seen, there are 19 others not seen. That’s 95% of them, so infestations are often worse than they appear. Flies compose 12% of known insect species.
Since there are so many species of fly, they don’t all have a uniform look. What they all do have is one normal set of wings. The second is a pair of knobbed organs called halteres which are thought to stabilize flies while in flight. Flies also have extraordinarily complex eyes for an insect. Their eyes are compound, with each facet representing a different light-detecting unit. They don’t have eyelids. They have a proboscis that they use like a tongue. They are covered in hairs that they use to taste, feel, and smell. They taste everything they walk on because they have taste buds on their feet as well as their mouths. They also have sticky wet pads on their feet that allow them to walk on smooth surfaces like glass.
Flies go through full metamorphosis: egg, larva, pupa, and adult. A female fly can lay up to 2400 eggs in her lifetime. Depending on the weather, they can hatch in a day. The larvae are called maggots. They are soft, legless, and headless. In extremely hot weather, maggot can become adults in as little as eight days. The warmer the weather, the faster flies are produced and the faster an infestation can spread.
Flies seek out moist organic matter like garbage, animal feces, and compost. Maggots are found in decaying material, soil, and as parasites.
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Flies carry anything they step on with them on the sticky pads of their feet. They also vomit on any surface that they land on. Since flies are often drawn to rotting material and feces, they spread diseases like typhoid fever, cholera, bacillary dysentery, hepatitis, polio, and tuberculosis any and everywhere they go.
The easiest way to keep flies away is sanitation. Don’t leave trash out. Don’t leave food out. Regularly clean out animal waste. Don’t leave doors open where flies can get in. Fly problems are generally at their worst during or right after heat waves.
Flyswatters can be helpful in a pinch, but if the problem persists or becomes particularly horrid, call a pest control service and they will take care of it.