There are 18,000 species of flies in North America, and 120,000 around the world. Despite their short lifespan, they are able to reproduce very quickly, and they are known to carry several dangerous diseases including tuberculosis, salmonella and malaria. In this short guide, we will cover the most common types of flies in the US and how you can prevent them from infesting your home.
The most common type of fly that is found around the home, house flies are present worldwide and throughout the US. They have a grayish color, red eyes, hairy bodies, and are about 1/4″ long. They usually reach adulthood within as little as six days after hatching, and a female house fly is able to lay 350 to 900 eggs within its lifetime.
The lifespan of a house fly is anywhere from 15 to 25 days. House flies do not have teeth or stingers and they can only consume liquids. However, they are able to liquify solid foods by sponging them into their mouths and then regurgitating or spitting them out again.
The main threat posed by the house fly comes from the fact that they have been known to carry up to 100 different pathogens such as typhoid, tuberculosis and salmonellosis. As they prefer to feed on carcasses, rotting food and feces, they come into contact with these materials, and then spread them to any surfaces they land on. They will also defecate very frequently, further spreading disease.
The fruit fly shares many characteristics with the house fly when it comes to lifespan and reproduction. However, they differ in appearance, with a brown or tan coloration, and a smaller size. They prefer to eat rotting fruits and vegetables, and are also attracted to fermenting liquids such as wine, liquor or beer. Fruit flies will often make a habitat out of dark, damp, and unsanitary locations such as trash bins, garbage disposals and drains, which makes them just as dangerous as the house fly when it comes to spreading disease.
Horse flies are much larger than both house and fruit flies, and they will often form breeding sites near bodies of water where they have access to mammal hosts. They have large purple/green eyes, and they are capable of flying for up to 30 miles in search for an adequate nesting site. What sets horse flies apart is that they do not really spread disease. Instead they have painful bites that may trigger an allergic reaction. Female horse flies are very aggressive and they feed on blood, while the males only consume nectar and pollen. Females have been known to bite until they draw blood or are killed, and they may even chase a victim for a short period of time.
Preventing a fly infestation
The best way to prevent flies from being drawn to your home is to ensure that you do not leave trash out and that all food is sealed and stored safely. Make sure that your windows are screened and that any seams and cracks in the exterior of the home are caulked. If however, you suspect that you have a full blown fly infestation, it is best to contact a professional exterminator.