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The Fly Common Housefly, Musca Domesticatitle

Adults are 6 - 8 mm long. Wings span 13 - 15 mm. The thorax is grey with four longitudinal dark stripes. The fourth vein on the wing bends sharply forward, almost reaching the third vein. The sides of the abdomen are yellowish and may be transparent.

The pupa is about 6 mm long and may be yellow, brown or black. The larva is a typical maggot. It undergoes larval moults, gradually increasing in size and changing colour from white to cream.

Biology

Each female fly can lay over 9,000 eggs. The eggs are white and are about 1.2 mm in length. Within a day, the larvae (maggots) hatch from the eggs; they live and feed in (usually dead and decaying) organic material, such as garbage or faeces.

They are pale whitish, 3-9 mm long, thinner at the mouth end, and have no legs. At the end of their thirdinstar, the maggots crawl to a dry cool place and transform into pupae, coloured reddish or brown and about 8 mm long.The adult flies then emerge from the pupae. (This whole cycle is known as complete metamorphosis.) The adults live from half a month to a month in the wild, or longer in benign laboratory conditions.

After having emerged from the pupae, the flies cease to grow; small flies are not young flies but the result of insufficient food during the larval stage. Some 36 hours after having emerged from the pupa, the female is receptive for mating.

The male mounts her from behind to inject sperm. Normally the female mates only once, storing the sperm to use it repeatedly for several sets of eggs. Males are territorial: they will defend a certain territory against other males and will attempt to mount any females that enter that territory. As with other insects, development times are influenced by temperature, relative humidity, moisture content, quantity and quality of food.

Hygiene Management

Good housekeeping is essential to limit the number of potential breeding sites. Domestic Refuse must be stored in sealed bins for early removal to disposal sites. Food waste should be sealed in bags at all times. Compost heaps should be covered or in purpose built containers. This will minimise larvae emergence and promote fermentation temperatures at which the larvae cannot survive. Farm Manure should be kept as dry as possible, especially in poultry houses where leaking water feeders can provide ideal, moist breeding conditions.

The biothermic method of storing dung involves compacting manure into a cuboid stack which promotes uniform, persistent fermentation throughout the dung which is lethal to the larvae.

Significance

Houseflies can transmit intestinal worms and/or their eggs and are potential vectors (carriers) of diseases such as dysentery, gastroenteritis, typhoid cholera and tuberculosis. They feed frequently and indiscriminately on any liquefiable solid or moist food, putrefying material or food stored for human consumption. Flies liquefy food by regurgitating digestive juices and their stomach contents on the food substance.

This liquid is then drawn up by the sucking mouthparts and in so doing the insects pick up pathogenic organisms, which may collect on their bodies to be transferred on contact with other surfaces, or survive being passed through the gut to be deposited as fly spotting. Fly spotting is produced when the fly feeds or defecates.

Control

Flies have rapid and prolific breeding habits and high mobility. In order to break the life-cycle, control methods should be directed against both the larvae and the adult flies.

Occasionally, the problem of flies may be localised e.g. from a dead bird or rodent. Good hygiene is essential. So as to limit breeding sites and food sources. Refuse should be stored in well sealed containers. Fly screens and other proofing methods should be utilised. Uv light stalls should be installed where appropriate. Fly traps with a bait attractant may prove useful in dealing with localised problems. Residual insecticides applied as surface treatments, dusts, lacquers and vapour strips may all have their uses depending on the extent and the site of the infestation.

The application of the residual synthetic pyrethoids to areas where the flies are seen to congregate will help to alleviate the problem.It should be pointed out that the use of residual insecticides, particularly synthetic pyrethroids, in poultry units is not recommended, as it will almost certainly cause a very rapid development of insecticide resistance in the fly population.

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