Common Fly Species

Flies can regularly be found in homes and businesses across the UK.

Some species are more common than others and are attracted to different environments suited to their natural habits and lifecycle.

Knowing about the size, habits, seasonality and lifecycle of different fly species, can help to identify the most effective prevention and fly control methods.

FACT: On average, the adult housefly will live for around 30 days. They go through a complete four-stage cycle that consists of egg, larva, pupa and adult stages.

Autumn Fly

(Musca autumnalis)

Autumn flies affect both horses and cattle, and are usually seen on the face and often around the eyes.

On host animals, they obtain protein from nasal mucus, saliva, and tears. The flies have microscopic “teeth” on their mouthparts, which are used to stimulate the flow of tears and aid this feeding process.

At night they rest on vegetation or man-made structures. Most daylight hours are spent feeding on plant sugars, the surface of manure deposits, or on animals.

Clemson University - USDA Cooperative Extension Slide Series, Bugwood.org

Key Facts

  • Females are almost identical to the house fly.
  • Males have an orange abdomen with a black mark down the centre.
  • The female is approximately 6–7mm, and is generally larger than the male.

Life Cycle

  • They are strong fliers and are capable of travelling several miles, but most stay within the vicinity of their breeding grounds.
  • Breed in animal dung in fields.
  • They undergo a complete metamorphosis with distinct egg, larva or maggot, pupal and adult stages.
  • The white eggs, about 1.2 mm in length, are laid singly but pile up in small masses.
  • Each female fly can lay up to 500 eggs in several batches over a three to four day period.
  • The lifecycle can be complete within 12–20 days depending on temperature, with as many as 12 or several generations occurring in one summer.

Bluebottle Fly

(Calliphora vomitoria)

Bluebottle flies (also known as Blow fly) can often be seen hovering around dustbins. These scavengers are attracted to pet faeces and dead animals and as such are known carriers of disease.

Their name originates from their iridescent colours that are similar to coloured bottles.

Bluebottle Fly

Key Facts

  • Adult is 1/4" - 1/2" in length.
  • Metallic blue colour.
  • Larva — Similar to the house fly larva in all respects except size. 3/4" when mature. They take 7 – 12 days to mature.

Life Cycle

  • Eggs hatch 0 – 18 hrs (partial development may occur within the female).
  • Breeds in mostly meat derived substances, sometimes cheese.
  • Common pest of dead rodents/birds etc.

Cluster Fly

(Pollenia rudis)

Cluster flies are commonly found in quiet, undisturbed parts of your home, such as attics and wall voids. They require warm places to hibernate over winter.

You may see a large group of cluster flies around a window, as they are attracted to the light on sunny winter days.

Cluster Fly - Pollenia Rudis

Key Facts

  • 6–10mm in length.
  • Dark grey–olive thorax clothed with crinkled golden–brown hairs.
  • Wings overlap when at rest.
  • Sluggish in flight.

Life Cycle

  • Eggs laid in soil in late summer or early autumn.
  • Larva develop in earthworms – feeding on their host for several days. Then they molt and pupate in the soil.
  • Development time from egg to adult is about 27 to 39 days.

Crane Fly

(Daddy long legs)

Crane flies pose no immediate harm to humans. Adults do not feed, bite or sting.

They can be found in damp, mossy woodland.

Crane Fly

Key Facts

  • Adult is 60mm long (wingspan 75mm).
  • They are grey–brown and slender.
  • Legs are super–thin and long.
  • Larvae is 15–75mm long. They are worm–like and grey, brown or cream coloured.
  • When resting, some crane flies extend their wings and others fold them flat.

Life Cycle

  • Crane flies have a very short life span with most species surviving just long enough to complete the reproduction cycle.
  • Eggs are laid over the water of a pond or lake, or on the vegetation near the lake shore and hatch after about six weeks.
  • The larvae live in the water or in moist soil for up to five years depending on the species. Their feeding habits may cause damage to plant roots.
  • In the spring the larvae pupate and then emerge as adults.

Filter Fly

(Psychodidae)

Filter flies are often associated with sewage beds, where larvae feed on sludge–like organic matter. They are also known by a variety of names; drain fly, sewage fly and moth fly are a few examples.

Key Facts

  • 2mm in length.
  • Tan coloured body appears as grey.
  • Wings densely covered in hair and held tent–like over the body when at rest.

Life Cycle

  • Eggs hatch 1–6 days.
  • Larvae 10–50 days to mature.
  • Pupae 1–3 days to mature.

Fruit Fly

(Drosophila species)

Fruit flies are commonly found infesting fruit or hovering around fermenting residues found in pubs, fruit orchards & vegetables plots and breweries

Fruit fly

Key Facts

  • 3mm in length.
  • Yellow–brown or mottled in colour.
  • Bright red eyes.
  • Abdomen hangs down in flight, which is slow.
  • Tend to hover.

Life Cycle

  • They can breed in rotten fruit, unclean drains and even cleaning utensils.
  • Develops to adult in 7–30 days.
  • Adult lives 2–9 weeks.
  • In ideal temperature conditions, fruit flies can complete their development in as little as 1 week.

Horse Fly

(Family tabanidae)

Horse flies are a particular pest to livestock. Relentless biting attacks by females can result in reduced weight gain in some animals.

Male horse flies are mainly pollen and nectar feeders and are most active during daylight hours.

Horse fly bites can be very painful for humans too.They have mouth parts that work like miniature knives, which they use to slash open the skin with a scissor–like motion.

Horsefly

Key Facts

  • Adults can be up to 25 mm long.
  • Black to dark brown in colour with green or black eyes.
  • The males have contiguous eyes, which easily differentiates them from females where the eyes are widely separated.
  • Horse fly bites can be very painful.

Life Cycle

  • Mating is initiated in the air and completed on the ground where the female then deposits an egg mass sometimes with a shiny or chalky secretion, which aids in water protection.
  • Eggs are laid in masses ranging from 100 to 1000 eggs on a vertical surface overhanging water or wet ground favourable to larvae development. The eggs hatch in 5–7 days.
  • They overwinter in the larval stage and pupate during the spring and early summer.
  • Adult life cycle is 30 to 60 days.

House Fly

(Musca domestica)

House flies are major carriers of disease and can infest all types of premises. They are attracted to all types of food, including human food, pet food, animal feed, food waste and even faeces. Seeing adult flies is usually the most common sign of activity and a potential problem. Larvae may also be seen as they crawl out of breeding material to pupate.

House Fly

Key Facts

  • Adult is 5–8mm in length.
  • Grey thorax with 4 narrow stripes.
  • Buff or yellow abdomen.
  • Covered with small hairs that serve as taste organs.
  • Complex compound eyes – with thousands of lenses allows them a wide field of vision.
  • 4th wing vein bent and wing tips slightly pointed.
  • Larva is white and tapers to a point at the head end. There are 2 spiracle “spots” at the hind end, is legless and 12 mm in length when mature.

Life Cycle

House flies are able to quickly mature from an egg to an adult. They breed in moist decaying vegetable matter eg. in uncovered dustbin or pet food.

  • Eggs are laid in batches of 120 to 150 and can hatch in 8 – 72 hours.
  • The larvae of House Flies can take 3 – 60 days to mature.
  • Pupae matures in 3 – 28 days.

Once indoors, house flies can be found resting on walls, floors or ceilings. Outdoors they can be seen on plants, the ground, fences, compost heaps and rubbish bins.

At night them they prefer to rest near food sources approx. 5 to 15 feet off the ground.

Lacewings

(Chrysoperla carnea)

Lacewings are considered an important predator of mealybugs in both greenhouses and interior plantscapes.

They also feed on (among others) several species of aphids, spider mites (especially red mites), thrips, whiteflies, small caterpillars and beetle larvae.

Adults are active fliers, particularly during the evening and at night. They have a characteristic fluttering flight.

Lace wing Fly - Chrysoperla carnea

Key Facts

  • Approx 12–20mm long.
  • Adults are pale green.
  • Long antennae and bright, golden eyes.
  • They have large, transparent, pale green wings and a delicate body.

Life Cycle

They feed on pollen and also need nectar or honeydew as food before laying eggs.

  • Oval shaped eggs are laid at the end of long silken stalks. These single eggs start off green and turn grey after a few days.
  • The active larvae are grey or brownish. They are alligator–like with well–developed legs and large pincers with which they suck the body fluids from prey insects such as aphids.

Lacewings are often used as a biological integrated insect control program.

White Fly

(Trialeurodes vaporariorum)

White flies cause damage to plants by sucking out the sap from the plant. They can be found on the younger leaves and deposit eggs in this level. Pupae and emerging adults are located at the lowest leaf level.

White Fly

Key Facts

  • Adults – 1.5 – 3mm in length.
  • They are white and resemble wedge–shaped moths.

Life Cycle

  • Females lay eggs on the leaf surface which hatch after 10 days.
  • The newly hatched nymphs crawl over the surface of the leaf until they find a suitable place for feeding and settle. They remain there until pupation.
  • They can live between 30 and 70 days.

Yellow Swarming Fly

(Thaumatomyia notata)

Yellow swarming flies can often be found in large numbers in homes, especially roof voids, in the autumn, where they prefer to overwinter.

Key Facts

  • Small size – approx. 3mm in length (similar to a fruit fly).
  • Adults are bright yellow with black longitudinal stripes on thorax.
  • Black transverse stripes on abdomen.

Life Cycle

  • Often found hibernating in attics with cluster flies.
  • Little is known about these flies, however their larvae feed upon aphids associated with grass roots.