What’s that buzzing around your kitchen? What is your dog chasing around the living room? What came in when you left the back door open too long? In many cases, the answer is the same: a fly.
Have you ever noticed that house flies seem to disappear during the winter months? How do they manage to virtually vanish in the cold weather and then reappear in full force once weather starts to warm up? Read on to find out.
What Flies Do During The Winter
Adult house flies in winter spend their days in cracks and crevices, away from humans. In the spring, these flies lay eggs on decaying materials. Although this behavior can be compared to hibernation, the truth is that flies do not spend the winter months in a deep sleep like some animals, including some species of turtles, snakes, bats, hummingbirds, ladybugs, skunks and frogs. The cluster fly and other common fly species spend winter in diapause, a hibernation-like state of reduced metabolic activity.
Once temperatures climb in the spring months, the fly’s appetite and development return to normal. Unlike house flies, cluster flies prefer to lay eggs in the soil. Maggot hatchlings then seek an earthworm host. Once they find a host, they will eat their way from one end of the worm to another and pupate in the shell of the victim.
Fly Life Cycle
How long do flies live? Flies have a relatively short lifespan, contrary to the popular belief that they live for a mere 24 hours. The truth is that flies can live up to a few months, but most live between two weeks and a month. The main goal of the species is to find a food source and breed. When winter is approaching, female flies will seek out a place to lay eggs that hatch into larvae. Flies prefer to stick with dirty areas such as fecal matter or garbage bins for egg laying. Flies are inactive at night, resting in beams, trees, shrubs, grass, outdoor wires and near ceilings.
Each female fly is able to lay between 100 and 150 eggs at a time, and the reproduction cycle of a fly allows each female to lay a total of about 500 eggs in her short lifetime. These hatched larvae, commonly known as maggots, consume large amounts of food before protecting themselves for the winter in a type of cocoon. Once warmer weather arrives, the flies will emerge from these cocoons to find food and reproduce.
Large flies that are known as cluster flies get their name because of their tendency to band together to survive the winter through their parasitic relationship with worms. When comparing cluster flies vs house flies, it’s good to note that the larvae live in the body of earthworms throughout the duration of the cold weather season. It is not uncommon for unseasonably warm weather to cause adult flies to emerge and seek shelter in a building when the cold returns, so some homeowners may have to deal with the unpleasant surprise of harboring flies in the wintertime.
Some other types of pests will seek out a warm place to live during the cold winter months. Unfortunately, heated homes could be a target for insects, rodents and other pests that are seeking winter shelter.
Risks Flies Pose To Humans
In addition to being a nuisance, flies can transmit disease. Flies pick up organisms while crawling and feeding on animal waste, garbage and sewage and deposit it on people or the food they eat. Illnesses flies can spread include dysentery, diarrhea, typhoid, cholera, leprosy and eye infections.
Several fly species bite humans. Most of us are familiar with horse flies, large and fast fliers that, as their name suggests, also prey on livestock. Deer flies can bite us and also transmit disease, while biting midges—more commonly known as “no see ‘ums” or gnats—can bite day or night near bodies of water. Black flies are most common in early summer and late spring and can leave behind painful, swollen bites.
Fly Control Measures
Given the health risks that flies pose, many homeowners want to take steps to avoid having these buzzing creatures inside. To deter or trap flies, you can use fly swatters, automatic misters, sticky tapes or fly paper, baited traps or electrocuting grids. Keeping garbage and pet waste in tightly sealed containers that are regularly emptied can help prevent flies from sticking around. Make sure to clean out waste containers of residue that could attract these pests. Some people find success filling glasses with water and a few pennies at the bottom or repelling them with essential oils.
ABC Can Handle Your Pest Problems
There’s a reason that some animals are called pests: they are an annoyance at best, and at worst, they can pose a health risk. Many pests are not easy to for the average homeowner to handle without calling in the experts. Homeowners have counted on ABC’s pest control services for decades. Take advantage of a free inspection to determine the best way to handle your most persistent pest problems.