Overview

Brief Summary

The housefly, Musca domestica, is the most common of domestic flies. Originally from central Asia, they are now one of the most widely distributed insects, found associated with humans all over the world. Houseflies feed and breed in animal feces and garbage, and also commonly visit human foods. Their legless maggots feed directly on the material in which the eggs were laid. Adult flies have sponge-sucking mouthparts that allow them to eat only liquid foods; they eject saliva to break down solid foods. Although they do not bite, this species is a problematic pest as a vector for more than 100 serious pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes), including those causing typhoid, cholera, salmonellosis, dysentery, tuberculosis, anthrax, and parasitic worms, carried to human food on the fly’s body parts or in its regurgitations or defecations. Control of houseflies especially in poor countries with inadequate sewage facilities and sanitation is an important public health concern. Houseflies breed readily, a female can lay up to 500 eggs, and in tropical areas this species undergoes up to 20 generations/year. Two other fly species are similar and often confused with the housefly: Fannia canicularis, the lesser housefly and the stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans. (Sanchez-Arroyo and Capinera 2008; Wikipedia 2011)

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The housefly Musca domestica, is the most common of domestic flies. Originally from central Asia, they are now one of the most widely distributed insects, found associated with humans all over the world. Houseflies feed and breed in animal feces and garbage, and also commonly visit human foods. Their legless maggots feed directly on the material in which the eggs were laid. Adult flies have sponge-sucking mouthparts that allow them to eat only liquid foods; they eject saliva to break down solid foods. Although they do not bite, this species is a problematic pest as a vector for more than 100 serious pathogens (viruses, bacteria, fungi, protozoa, and nematodes), including those causing typhoid, cholera, salmonellosis, dysentery, tuberculosis, anthrax, and parasitic worms, carried to human food on the fly’s body parts or in its regurgitations or defecations. Control of houseflies especially in poor countries with inadequate sewage facilities and sanitation is an important public health concern. Houseflies breed readily, a female can lay up to 500 eggs, and in tropical areas this species undergoes up to 20 generations/year. Two other fly species are similar and often confused with the housefly: Fannia canicularis, the lesser housefly and the stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans. (Sanchez-Arroyo and Capinera 2008; Wikipedia 2011)

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Biology

House flies contaminate food, and in developing countries are responsible for millions of infant deaths per year as a result of dehydration caused by diarrhoea (5). House flies undergo 'complete metamorphosis'; the larvae (maggots) progress through three stages known as 'instars' before a pupal stage develops in which complex changes take place as the body of the maggot re-organises into the adult fly (4). Adults feed on rotting plant and animal matter and sugary liquids. They repeatedly salivate on food, ingest it and regurgitate it in order to pre-digest the food (4).
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Description

The house fly is, perhaps, the most common and widespread animal in the world (3). It is a serious pest, which spreads many disease-causing pathogens including Salmonella, anthrax and polio (4). It is greyish in colour with four dark stripes along the back (4). Like all flies it has one pair of membranous 'true' wings; the second pair of wings are modified into drumstick-like appendages known as 'halteres', which are used in balance. The sponge-like mouthparts are adapted for feeding on liquids, and the reddish compound eyes are large (5).
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Distribution

Houseflies are found almost anywhere, especially in areas that humans also inhabit. They are believed to have originated in temperate regions of the Eastern Hemisphere.

Biogeographic Regions: nearctic (Introduced ); palearctic (Native ); oriental (Introduced ); ethiopian (Introduced ); neotropical (Introduced ); australian (Introduced ); oceanic islands (Introduced )

Other Geographic Terms: cosmopolitan

  • Marshall, S. 2006. Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity. Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books Ltd..
  • Robinson, W. 2005. Urban Insects and Arachnids: A Handbook of Urban Entomology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Swan, L., C. Papp. 1972. The Common Insects of North America. New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc..
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National Distribution

Canada

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

United States

Origin: Native

Regularity: Regularly occurring

Currently: Present

Confidence: Confident

Type of Residency: Year-round

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Range

This species is ubiquitous throughout Britain and is found in many parts of the world (3).
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Physical Description

Morphology

Adult houseflies have short antennae, a gray thorax with four darker longitudinal stripes, and a gray or yellow abdomen with a darker median line and irregular pale yellowish spot at the anterior lateral margins. The abdomen consists of 8 segments in males and 9 segments in females. In females, the first 5 segments are visible externally. The last 4 segments are normally retracted but they extend to make the ovipositor when the female lays her eggs. This allows females to bury the eggs several mm below the surface. Females are slightly larger than males. Like all flies (Diptera), houseflies have only one pair of wings. The second pair is reduced to halteres, which are used for balance. Their wings are translucent and fold back straight at rest. Houseflies are 4 to 8 mm long, and 6.35 mm long on average.

Like many flies (Diptera), mouthparts of adults are sponge-like. Mouthparts are comprised of two fleshy, grooved lobes called the labella, which are attached to the lower lip, known as the labium. The lower surface of these lobes contains numerous transverse grooves that serve as liquid food channels. Houseflies can only intake food in liquid form. The mouthparts are suspended from the rostrum, which is a membranous projection of the lower part of the head. The larvae have mouth hooks used to filter-feed on masses of bacteria.

Fully-grown larvae are 12 to 13 mm long and are a yellowish, white color. Their bodies are smooth and shiny. They have a pointed anterior end, a blunt posterior end, and two spiracles. A small patch of small spines lies ventrally between abdomen 1 and 7 but is absent on the thoracic segments.

Average mass: .012 g.

Range length: 4 to 8 mm.

Average length: 6.35 mm.

Range wingspan: 13 to 15 mm.

Other Physical Features: ectothermic ; heterothermic ; bilateral symmetry

Sexual Dimorphism: female larger

  • Borror, D., C. Triplehorn, N. Johnson. 1989. An Introduction to the Study of Insects. Orlando, Florida: Saunders College Publishing.
  • Dahlem, G. 2003. House Fly (Musca Domestica). Pp. 532-534 in V Resh, R Carde, eds. Encyclopedia on Insects, Vol. 1, 1 Edition. San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
  • Hewitt, C. 1914. The House Fly: Musca Domestica, Linnaeus: Its Structure, Habits, Development, Relation to Disease and Control. Cambridge: University Press. Accessed March 25, 2012 at ttp://books.google.com/books?id=13S9AAAAIAAJ&pg=PR11&lpg=PR11&dq=houseflies+ocean&source=bl&ots=kW8nC10KVj&sig=SqQTGuzXls5jeKdqW6Q6Yd1wmH8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1m5vT-DvAsS3twftotC-Bg&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=houseflies%20ocean&f=false.
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Ecology

Habitat

Houseflies live in both urban and rural areas, especially where humans are present. Because human garbage and feces are the most preferred source for larvae development, houseflies are most associated with urban areas. Specifically, dung heaps, garbage cans, and mammalian road kill are the best environments for larvae to develop. Other breeding mediums include rotten fruit and vegetables, old broth, boiled eggs, and even rubber.

Houseflies are primarily found in temperate regions. They are most abundant during the warm seasons, but some adults may survive through the winter season in temperate areas. They are most active and live longest in temperatures between 10 and 26.6 degrees Celsius. Adult houseflies are inactive at temperatures below 7.2 degrees Celsius and die when temperatures go below 0 degrees Celsius or above 44.4 degrees Celsius. Extreme temperatures are most dangerous to the life of houseflies when the humidity is high. Feeding larvae prefer temperatures between 30 and 35 degrees Celsius.

Habitat Regions: temperate ; tropical ; terrestrial

Other Habitat Features: urban ; suburban ; agricultural

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Occurs in a wide range of habitats, and is often associated with human activities (1); tends to breed in manure and decomposing material (3).
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Trophic Strategy

The main food sources of houseflies are milk, sugar, blood, feces, and decaying organic matter such as fruits and vegetables. Houseflies also require a source of water. Larvae also eat paper and textile materials such as wool, cotton, and sacking if it is kept moist and at suitable temperatures.

Animal Foods: blood; body fluids; carrion

Plant Foods: fruit

Other Foods: dung

Primary Diet: carnivore (Scavenger ); coprophage

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Associations

The primary ecosystem role of houseflies is decomposition and recycling of organic material. Houseflies are closely associated with humans, drawn to urban areas and high densities of human waste and garbage that is their food. They do not associate with many other species. They avoid competition with other species of Muscidae by feeding on feces from different types of animals. Houseflies are loosely associated with dung beetles (xxxx xxxx). Dung beetles disturb dung and disturb housefly larvae living in the dung, limiting reproduction.

Housefly larvae compete with fungi for nutrients because both grow in manure. A particular strain of bacteria, Klebsiella oxytoca, is known to reduce fungi growth in manure. This bacteria competes with the fungus for other nutrients in the manure and also releases antifungal chemicals that inhibit the growth of fungi. Thus, K. oxytoca makes more nutrients available to the houseflies. Studies have found K. oxytoca on the surface of housefly eggs.

Several species of beetles and mites feed on houseflies. Humans may use housefly larvae or pupae to feed domesticated animals. In China, the larvae and pupae of houseflies can be used as food for fish, poultry, pigs, and farm-grown mink. The use of insects as food for domestic animals is a cost-effective alternative to other conventional fish diets.

Ecosystem Impact: pollinates; biodegradation

Mutualist Species:

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Several species of beetles and mites are predators of houseflies, including histerid beetles Carcinops pumilio and Dendrophilus xavieria, muscid flies, and the macrochelid mites Glyptholapsis confusa and Macrocheles muscaedomesticae. Macrocheles muscaedomesticae is attracted to the odor of manure found on houseflies.

Known Predators:

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Flowering Plants Visited by Musca domestica in Illinois

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Animal / dung associate
larva of Musca domestica inhabits dung of Mammalia

Foodplant / debris feeder
larva of Musca domestica feeds on decaying debris of Magnoliopsida

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Known predators

Musca domestica (M. domestica larvae) is prey of:
Sinea complexa
Proctacanthella leucopogon
Silpha truncata
Necrophorus marginatus
Conomyrma bicolor
Pheidole
Novomessor cockerelli
Crematogaster clara
Iridomyrmex pruinosum
Saprinus discoidalis
Syspira longipes
Psilochorus utahensis
Creophilis maxillosus

Based on studies in:
USA: Texas, Hueco Mountains (Carrion substrate)
USA: Texas, Franklin Mtns (Carrion substrate)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • K. Schoenly and W. Reid, 1983. Community structure of carrion arthropods in the Chihuahuan Desert. J. Arid Environ. 6:253-263, from pp. 256-58 & unpub. material.
  • M. McKinnerney, 1977. Carrion communities in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. M.S. thesis. University of Texas-El Paso, Texas; and 1978, Carrion communities in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. Southw. Nat. 23:563-576, from thesis and p. 571.
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Known prey organisms

Musca domestica (M. domestica larvae) preys on:
carcass
Lepus californicus

Based on studies in:
USA: Texas, Hueco Mountains (Carrion substrate)
USA: Texas, Franklin Mtns (Carrion substrate)

This list may not be complete but is based on published studies.
  • K. Schoenly and W. Reid, 1983. Community structure of carrion arthropods in the Chihuahuan Desert. J. Arid Environ. 6:253-263, from pp. 256-58 & unpub. material.
  • M. McKinnerney, 1977. Carrion communities in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. M.S. thesis. University of Texas-El Paso, Texas; and 1978, Carrion communities in the northern Chihuahuan Desert. Southw. Nat. 23:563-576, from thesis and p. 571.
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Diseases and Parasites

House flies are the carriers of more than 100 human and animal intestinal diseases and are a vector for protozoan (amoebic dysentery), bacterial (shigellosis, salmonellosis, cholera, rickettsia) and helminthic (round worms, hookworms, pinworms and tapeworms) infections as well as viral infections (Malik et al. 2007). These diseases are contracted by flies from garbage, sewage, and other sources of waste. The flies can also transmit eye diseases such as trachoma and infect wounds and skin with diseases such as cutaneous diphtheria, mycoses, yaws and leprosy. Larvae swallowed in food material sometimes survive in the human gut, causing intestinal myiasis, with symptoms of pain, nausea and vomiting. About 60% of house flies carry bacteria, most commonly staphylococci (Malik et al., 2007).

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Life History and Behavior

Behavior

Perception channels in houseflies include olfactory, tactile, vision, and chemical signals such as pheromones. Olfactory senses are used extensively to find food. Chemical sensations from their olfactory system create an electrophysiological response on the antennae. Researchers observe the electrical spikes in the stimulation of olfactory cells on their antennae to determine if the housefly under study is attracted or repelled by an odor. Humans have taken advantage of this trait, developing commercial repellents with odors they find unpleasant.

Houseflies taste food through taste hairs, many of which are located on their feet. Other hairs used to sense air flow are located all over their body. This sense allows them to avoid obstacles while flying. Compound eyes also give them a keen sense of sight and the ability to recognize lights and motions. In mating, houseflies communicate through pheromones.

Adult houseflies are attracted to soil or animal feces that has chemicals called metabolites in it from other larvae. This signifies a high concentration of nutrients, so larvae in those locations are likely to survive. In this way, females are capable of perception of larval density.

Communication Channels: acoustic ; chemical

Other Communication Modes: pheromones

Perception Channels: visual ; tactile ; acoustic ; chemical

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Life Cycle

Houseflies undergo complete metamorphosis consisting of an egg, larva or maggot, pupal, and adult stage. Houseflies can complete their life cycle in as little as 7 to 10 days, so as many as 10 to 12 generations may occur in one summer. In North America and Europe, houseflies are common from July through September. In South America and Australia, they are most common from October to February or March.

In warm weather, housefly larvae hatch within 8 to 12 hours. In cooler weather, hatching takes up to 24 hours. Once the larvae hatch, they burrow into feces with their two mouth hooks and take up nutrients from the material. It takes 5 days for the larvae to completely develop. Larvae survive best in compost mixtures of decaying vegetables enriched with dung or animal material. This is why larvae are commonly found in garbage. Larvae prefer pig, horse, and human feces as opposed to cow feces, which is preferred by face flies (Musca autumnalis). Prior to pupation, larvae migrate for up to 3 to 4 days to a dry area. Once the larva fully develops, it is a pupa for 4 days.

Egg and larva densities are important factors in determining where females lay their eggs. Females tend to lay their eggs in locations with many other larvae are present, because this signals that the medium is rich in nutrients. The more nutrients larvae are exposed to, the larger adults they will become. Areas with low larvae density signal low levels of nutrients, whereas too high of a density means that nutrients are depleted. Intermediate density is the most favorable growing condition for larvae.

Several mechanisms exist for sex determination in houseflies: male heterogamy (the presence of a Y chromosome makes an individual male), a dominant autosomal male determining factor, a dominant autosomal female determining factor, a maternal effect factor "Ag" (where Ag/+ females produce only sons, +/+ females produce only daughters, and Ag/Ag means the female will die), and also an epigenetic male determiner (the interaction between another gene and female genes of the egg can result in a male offspring). Sex determination also depends on the mother's age and temperature. Because houseflies exhibit many mechanisms for sex determination, geneticists and other scientists study houseflies to understand sex determination. The sex ratio of male to female houseflies is always roughly 1:1.

Development - Life Cycle: metamorphosis

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Life Expectancy

Range lifespan

Status: wild:
60 (high) days.

Typical lifespan

Status: wild:
15 to 25 days.

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Reproduction

Houseflies exhibit a polygynous mating system. Males seek to mate with many females. The females generally seek to only mate with one male since this is sufficient to lay all the eggs in her life. In rare instances, females mate with more than one male.

Mating System: polygynous

Male and female adult flies are able to mate by the time they are 16 and 24 hours old, respectively. The mating process is mainly the responsibility of the male. The courtship ritual includes orientation, landing, wing-out, leg-up, head lapping, head touching, boxing, backing, genital orientation, genital contact, and copulation. The female may avoid the male at any time, specifically if she has mated before. The female’s main role is to decide whether to accept or decline the male’s mating request by extending her ovipositor to the male or not.

The process of mating begins when the male strikes the female. One strike takes 1 to 9 seconds to occur. Striking may occur while both flies are in flight or while resting on the ground. A strike occurring on the ground involves the male jumping on the female. If the strike occurs in the air, both flies immediately fall to a surface. As the strike is occurring, the male forces the female’s wings open so they are horizontal, and her wings vibrate. This vibration is often accompanied by a loud buzzing sound. As the female’s wings come out, the male then strokes or caresses the head of the female. Females may avoid the strike by darting and flying away, and she can avoid the caress by shaking violently.

Females may then accept or reject copulation. A virgin female readily copulates and thrusts her ovipositor into the male genital opening. A female that has mated before will more likely be passive towards copulation or resist it. In both of these cases, the male leaves. Mating lasts 30 minutes to 2 hours.

Striking may also occur between two males because some male houseflies have incomplete sex recognition, and also because females exhibit low levels of sex pheromones. Males may also strike inanimate objects. This is possibly because dark toned objects trigger housefly courtship. The amount of sex pheromones in males does not affect how successful they are at mating.

Houseflies reproduce at an extremely high rate relative to other species of flies. Females lay oval, white eggs on moist animal feces, excrement, and garbage, preferably that is exposed to light. A female lays approximately 500 eggs throughout her life. The female will deposit these eggs in 5 to 6 batches of 75 to 150 eggs over the course of 3 to 4 days. Females can lay all of their eggs after fertilization by just one male. At birth, larvae weigh .008 to .02 g.

Breeding interval: Females lay 5 to 6 batches of eggs over the course of 3 to 4 days.

Breeding season: Houseflies can breed year-round, but most often in the summer from June through October. The peak breeding months are July, August, and September.

Range eggs per season: 75 to 150.

Average gestation period: 24 hours.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female): 24 (low) hours.

Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male): 16 (low) hours.

Key Reproductive Features: year-round breeding ; gonochoric/gonochoristic/dioecious (sexes separate); sexual ; fertilization (Internal ); oviparous

Female houseflies exhibit minimal parental investment by choosing a moist, nutritious material to deposit her eggs in. After depositing her eggs, the female does not care for or interact with her eggs or larva again. Males do not exhibit any parental investment.

Parental Investment: female parental care ; pre-fertilization (Provisioning, Protecting: Female)

  • Bryant, E., A. Hall. 1999. The Role of Medium Conditioning in the Population Dynamics of the Housefly. Researches on Population Ecology, 16, 2: 188-197. Accessed March 26, 2012 at http://www.springerlink.com/content/q1gq5g8385j45414/fulltext.pdf.
  • Hewitt, C. 1914. The House Fly: Musca Domestica, Linnaeus: Its Structure, Habits, Development, Relation to Disease and Control. Cambridge: University Press. Accessed March 25, 2012 at ttp://books.google.com/books?id=13S9AAAAIAAJ&pg=PR11&lpg=PR11&dq=houseflies+ocean&source=bl&ots=kW8nC10KVj&sig=SqQTGuzXls5jeKdqW6Q6Yd1wmH8&hl=en&sa=X&ei=1m5vT-DvAsS3twftotC-Bg&ved=0CC8Q6AEwAg#v=onepage&q=houseflies%20ocean&f=false.
  • Jalil, M., J. Rodriguez. 1970. Studies of Behavior of Macrocheles muscaedomesticae with Emphasis of its Attraction to the House Fly. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 63 (3): 738-744. Accessed February 24, 2012 at ttp://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/esa/aesa/1970/00000063/00000003/art00026.
  • LaBrecque, G., D. Meifert, C. Smith. 1962. Mating Competitiveness of Chemosterilized and Normal Male House Flies. Science, 136 (3514): 388-389. Accessed February 24, 2012 at http://www.sciencemag.org/content/136/3514/388.short.
  • Marshall, S. 2006. Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity. Buffalo, New York: Firefly Books Ltd..
  • Murvosh, C., R. Fye, G. Labrecque. 1964. Studies of the Mating Behavior of the House Fly, Musca Domestica. The Ohio Journal of Science, 64(4): 264-271. Accessed February 24, 2012 at http://scholar.googleusercontent.com/scholar?q=cache:e2FIMk7xILgJ:scholar.google.com/+house+flies+behavior&hl=en&as_sdt=0,23.
  • Robinson, W. 2005. Urban Insects and Arachnids: A Handbook of Urban Entomology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
  • Swan, L., C. Papp. 1972. The Common Insects of North America. New York, N.Y.: Harper & Row, Publishers, Inc..
  • Tobin, E., J. Stoffolano. 1973. The Courtship of Musca Species Found in North America. 1. The House Fly, Musca domestica. Annals of the Entomological Society of America, 66 (6): 1249-1257. Accessed February 24, 2012 at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/esa/aesa/1973/00000066/00000006/art00015.
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Evolution and Systematics

Functional Adaptations

Functional adaptation

Acrobatics used to land: house fly
 

House flies land on ceilings by approaching at a 45° and then cartwheeling into the landing.

   
  "A fly lands on a ceiling by flying up at an angle of about 45° with its front feet extended; as soon as contact is made the fly cartwheels over onto its other four feet." (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:13)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Foy, Sally; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
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Functional adaptation

Olfactory system detects decomposition: house fly
 

The olfactory systems of some flies help them find food due to their extreme sensitivity to the smell of rotting meat.

   
  "The sense of smell is vital to most insects for finding food. Flies are particularly sensitive to the chemical odour given off by rotting meat…" (Foy and Oxford Scientific Films 1982:129)
  Learn more about this functional adaptation.
  • Foy, Sally; Oxford Scientific Films. 1982. The Grand Design: Form and Colour in Animals. Lingfield, Surrey, U.K.: BLA Publishing Limited for J.M.Dent & Sons Ltd, Aldine House, London. 238 p.
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Molecular Biology and Genetics

Molecular Biology

Barcode data: Musca domestica

The following is a representative barcode sequence, the centroid of all available sequences for this species.


There are 91 barcode sequences available from BOLD and GenBank.

Below is a sequence of the barcode region Cytochrome oxidase subunit 1 (COI or COX1) from a member of the species.

See the BOLD taxonomy browser for more complete information about this specimen and other sequences.

CCATCCTGGGTT------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------TTATTGCATGATGGTTCCTGGATTTGGAAT------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------AATTTCTCATAT------------------------------TATTCGTCAAGAATCAGGAAAGAA---------------------------------------GGAAACATTCGGTTC------------------------------TTTAGGAATAATTTATGCTATGTTAGC------------------AATTGGACTTTTAGGATTTATTGTATGAGCTCATCACATATT---------------------TACTGTTGGAATAGACGTAGATACTCGAGCTTACTTCACTTCAGCTAC------------------------------------------AATAATTATTGCTGTACCTACTGGAAT------------------------------CAAGATTTT---------------------------------------------------------------CAGTTGATTAGCTACATTATACGGAACTCAACTAACTTATTCTCCAGCTATTTTATGAGCTTTAGGATTCTC------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------GTATTCTTATTTACTGTAGGAGGTTTAACAGGAGTAGTACTAGCTAACTCATCTGTTGATATTATTTTACATTATACATATTATGTAGTTGCTCATTTCCACTATGTA---CTTTCTATAGGAGCTGTATTTGCTATTATAGCAGGATTTGTACATTTATACCCTCTATTTACTGGATTAACTCTAAATAATAAACTTTTAAAAAGTCAATTTGTTATTATATTTATTGGAGTAAATTTAACATTCTTTCCTCAACATTTCTTAGGATTAGCCGGAATACCTCGA---CGATATTCTGATTATCCTGATGCTTATACA---GCATTAAATGTAATTTCAACAATCGGTTCAACAATTTCATTATTAGGAATTTTATATTTATTCGTATATTATCTGAGAAAGTTTAGTATCTCA------------ACGACAAGGAAATTTTCCCAATTCAAT
-- end --

Download FASTA File

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Statistics of barcoding coverage: Musca domestica

Barcode of Life Data Systems (BOLDS) Stats
Public Records: 57
Specimens with Barcodes: 93
Species With Barcodes: 1
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Conservation

Conservation Status

Houseflies are highly abundant and not threatened or endangered.

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National NatureServe Conservation Status

Canada

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

United States

Rounded National Status Rank: NNR - Unranked

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NatureServe Conservation Status

Rounded Global Status Rank: GNR - Not Yet Ranked

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Status

Very common and widespread (1).
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Threats

This species is not threatened. It is subject to control measures in some areas as it can be a serious pest (6).
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Management

Conservation

Not relevant.
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Relevance to Humans and Ecosystems

Benefits

Houseflies are perhaps the most widespread insect pest and are especially pervasive pests to humans. They may lay their eggs in human feces, where the maggots can filter feed on nutrient rich waste material. The feces of houseflies can spread typhoid fever, amoebic and bacillary dysentery, diarrhea, cholera, pinworm, tapeworm, hookworms (Necator americanus and Ncylostoma duodenal, yaws, anthrax, Cryptosporidium parvum, and some forms of conjunctivitis. Houseflies do not bite.

Negative Impacts: injures humans (carries human disease); crop pest; household pest

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Houseflies decompose decaying matter.

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Despite the many negative aspect that house fly have on humans, there are however, some benefits to be derived. The first advantage is derived from its mode of nutrition and life cycle. Since digestion of food takes place outside of the body and its larval stage lives and feeds on organic matter, flies are significant decomposers, disposing of decaying matter and replacing nutrients back into the soil.

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Risks

Musca domestica is the most common species, among a multitude of houseflies. They carry pathogens, cause food spoilage, and are significant domestic, medical, and veterinary pests . Musca domestica, a synanthropic fly, has a close association with humans and their environment. Musca domestica can be found at every place where people live and they also associated with livestaock farming (e.g., poultry farms, cattle sheds, horse stables and pig farms). They feed on human food and wastes where they can pick up and transport various disease agents. Flies have proboscis that helps them suck up food because they lack teeth to chew and bite. After landing on a potential food source, the house fly first vomits its stomach contents on to the food. Digestive juices, enzymes, and saliva in the vomit breaks down and dissolve the food, making it possible for the fly to suck up the liquid food using its proboscis. If flies suck up food from any source containing pathogens or bacteria, some of these microorganisms stick to the fly’s mouth or body parts, and when the fly comes in contact with human food, these contaminating or pathogenic agents are transferred. (Malik et al., 2007).

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Wikipedia

Housefly

Not to be confused with horsefly.

The housefly (also house fly, house-fly or common housefly), Musca domestica, is a fly of the suborder Cyclorrhapha. It is the most common of all domestic flies, accounting for about 91% of all flies in human habitations, and indeed one of the most widely distributed insects, found all over the world. It is considered a pest that can carry serious diseases.

Physical description[edit]

The frontal view of a housefly
A scan of a house fly under a scanning electron microscope.

The adults are about 5–8 mm long. Their thorax is gray or sometimes even black, with four longitudinal dark lines on the back. The whole body is covered with hair-like projections. The females are slightly larger than the males, and have a much larger space between their red compound eyes. The mass of pupae can range from about 8 to 20 mg under different conditions.[1]

Like other Diptera (meaning "two-winged"), houseflies have only one pair of wings; the hind pair is reduced to small halteres that aid in flight stability. Characteristically, the media vein (M1+2 or fourth long vein of the wing) shows a sharp upward bend.

Species that appear similar to the housefly include:

Life cycle[edit]

Anatomy of a housefly

Each female fly can lay approximately 9,000 eggs in a lifetime, in several batches of about 75 to 150.[2] The eggs are white and are about 1.2 mm in length. Within a day, larvae (maggots) hatch from the eggs; they live and feed on (usually dead and decaying) organic material, such as garbage, carrion or feces. They are pale-whitish, 3–9 mm long, thinner at the mouth end, and have no legs. Their life cycle ranges from 14 hours to 36 hours. At the end of their third instar, 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 two weeks to a month in the wild, or longer in benign laboratory conditions. Having emerged from the pupae, the flies cease to grow; small flies are not necessarily young flies, but are instead the result of getting insufficient food during the larval stage.[3]

The male mounts the female from behind

Some 36 hours after having emerged from the pupa, the female is receptive for mating. The male mounts her from behind to inject sperm. Copulation takes a few seconds to a couple of minutes.[3] Normally, the female mates only once, storing the sperm to use it repeatedly for laying several sets of eggs.[citation needed]

Two houseflies mating.
Housefly pupae are killed by parasitic wasp larvae. Each pupa has one hole through which a single adult wasp emerged; feeding occurs during the wasp's larval stage.
Illustration of a housefly

The flies depend on warm temperatures; generally, the warmer the temperature, the faster the flies will develop.[citation needed]

Aging[edit]

Because the somatic tissue of the housefly consists of long-lived post-mitotic cells, it can be used as an informative model system for understanding cumulative age-related cellular alterations. Agarwal and Sohal studied the level of the oxidative DNA damage 8-hydroxydeoxyguanosine (8-OHdG) in houseflies.[4] They found that the level of 8-OHdG increased with age of the flies. They also found an inverse association of 8-OHdG level with life expectancy of the flies. They concluded that their results support the hypothesis that oxidative molecular damage is a causal factor in senescence (aging). These findings are in accord with the general view that oxidative DNA damage, particularly in post-mitotic tissues, is a principal cause of aging.[5][6] (Also see DNA damage theory of aging.)

Sex determination[edit]

The housefly is an object of biological research, mainly because of one remarkable quality: the sex determination mechanism. Although a wide variety of sex determination mechanisms exist in nature (e.g. male and female heterogamy, haplodiploidy, environmental factors), the way sex is determined is usually fixed within one species. However, the housefly exhibits many different mechanisms for sex determination, such as male heterogamy (like most insects and mammals), female heterogamy (like birds) and maternal control over offspring sex. This makes the housefly one of the most suitable species to study the evolution of sex determination.[7]

Evolution[edit]

Even though the order of flies (Diptera) is much older, true houseflies are believed to have evolved in the beginning of the Cenozoic era, some 65 million years ago.[8] They are thought to have originated in the southern Palearctic region, particularly the Middle East. Because of their close, commensal relationship with humans, they probably owe their worldwide dispersal to co-migration with humans.[3]

Relationship with humans[edit]

In colder climates, houseflies survive only with humans. They have a tendency to aggregate and are difficult to dispose of. They are capable of carrying over 100 pathogens, such as those causing typhoid, cholera, salmonellosis,[9] bacillary dysentery,[10] tuberculosis, anthrax, ophthalmia, and parasitic worms.[11] Some strains have become immune to most common insecticides.[12][13]

House flies feed on liquid or semiliquid substances beside solid material which has been softened by saliva or vomit. Because of their large intake of food, they deposit feces constantly, one of the factors that makes the insect a dangerous carrier of pathogens. Although they are domestic flies, usually confined to human habitations, they can fly for several miles from the breeding place.[14] They are active only in daytime, and rest at night, e.g., at the corners of rooms, ceiling hangings, cellars, and barns, where they can survive the coldest winters by hibernation, and when spring arrives, adult flies are seen only a few days after the first thaw.

As a transmitter of disease[edit]

Mechanical transmission of organisms on its hairs, mouthparts, vomitus and feces:

Potential in waste management[edit]

The ability of housefly larvae to feed and develop in a wide range of decaying organic matter is important for recycling of nutrients in nature. Research suggests that this adaptation may be exploited to combat ever-increasing amounts of waste.[17] Housefly larvae can be mass-reared in a controlled manner in animal manure, thus reducing the bulk of waste and minimizing environmental risks of its disposal.[18][19] Harvested maggots may be used as feed for animal nutrition.[19][20]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Larraín, Patricia & Salas, Claudio (2008). "House fly (Musca domestica L.) (Diptera: Muscidae) development in different types of manure [Desarrollo de la Mosca Doméstica (Musca domestica L.) (Díptera: Muscidae) en Distintos Tipos de Estiércol]". Chilean Journal of Agricultural Research 68 (2): 192–197. doi:10.4067/S0718-58392008000200009. ISSN 0718-5839. 
  2. ^ Stuart M. Bennett (2003). "Housefly". 
  3. ^ a b c Anthony DeBartolo (June 5, 1986). "Buzz off! The housefly has made a pest of himself for 25 million years". Chicago Tribune. 
  4. ^ Agarwal S, Sohal RS (December 1994). "DNA oxidative damage and life expectancy in houseflies". Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. U.S.A. 91 (25): 12332–5. doi:10.1073/pnas.91.25.12332. PMC 45431. PMID 7991627. 
  5. ^ Holmes GE, Bernstein C, Bernstein H (September 1992). "Oxidative and other DNA damages as the basis of aging: a review". Mutation Research 275 (3-6): 305–15. doi:10.1016/0921-8734(92)90034-M. PMID 1383772. 
  6. ^ Bernstein, Harris; Payne, Claire M.; Bernstein, Carol; Garewal, Harinder; Dvorak, Katerina (2008). "Cancer and Aging as COnsequences of Un-repaired DNA Damage". In Kimura, Honoka; Suzuki, Aoi. New Research on DNA Damages. New York: Nova Science Publishers. pp. 1–47. ISBN 978-1-60456-581-2. 
  7. ^ Dübendorfer A, Hediger M, Burghardt G, Bopp D. (2002). "Musca domestica, a window on the evolution of sex-determining mechanisms in insects". International Journal of Developmental Biology 46 (1): 75–79. PMID 11902690. 
  8. ^ Wiegmann BM, Yeates DK, Thorne JL, Kishino H (December 2003). "Time flies, a new molecular time-scale for brachyceran fly evolution without a clock". Systematic Biology 52 (6): 745–56. doi:10.1093/sysbio/52.6.745. PMID 14668115. 
  9. ^ Ostrolenk M. & Welch H. (1942). "The house fly as a vector of food poisoning organisms in food producing establishments". American Journal of Public Health 32 (5): 487–494. doi:10.2105/ajph.32.5.487. 
  10. ^ Levine, O.S. & Levine M.M. (1991). "House flies (Musca domestica) as mechanical vectors of shigellosis". Reviews of Infectious Diseases 13 (4): 688–696. doi:10.1093/clinids/13.4.688. PMID 1925289. 
  11. ^ Förster M., Klimpel S. & Sievert K. (2009). "The house fly (Musca domestica) as a potential vector of metazoan parazites caught in a pig-pen in Germany". Veterinary Parasitology 160 (1-2): 163–167. doi:10.1016/j.vetpar.2008.10.087. 
  12. ^ Georghiou GP, Hawley MK (1971). "Insecticide resistance resulting from sequential selection of houseflies in the field by organophosphorus compounds". Bulletin of the World Health Organization 45 (1): 43–51. PMC 2427889. PMID 5316852. 
  13. ^ Keiding J. (1975). "Problems of housefly (Musca domestica) control due to multiresistance to insecticides". Journal of Hygiene, Epidemiology, Microbiology and Immunology 19 (3): 340–355. PMID 52667. 
  14. ^ Nazni W.A., Luke H., Wan Rozita W.M., Abdullah A.G., Sadiyah I., Azahari A.H., Zamree I., Tan S.B., Lee H.L. & Sofian A.M. (2005). "Determination of the flight range and despersal of the house fly, Musca domestica (L.) using mark release recapture technique". Tropical Biomedicine 22 (1): 53–61. PMID 16880754. 
  15. ^ A. L. Szalanski, C. B. Owens, T. Mckay & C. D. Steelman (2004). "Detection of Campylobacter and Escherichia coli O157:H7 from filth flies by polymerase chain reaction". Medical and Entomology 18 (3): 241–246. doi:10.1111/j.0269-283X.2004.00502.x. PMID 15347391. 
  16. ^ Sheri M. Brazil, C. Dayton Steelman & Allen L. Szalanski (2007). "Detection of pathogen DNA from filth flies (Diptera: Muscidae) using filter paper spot cards". Journal of Agricultural and Urban Entomology 24 (1): 13–18. doi:10.3954/1523-5475-24.1.13. 
  17. ^ Miller B. F., Teotia J. S. & Thatcher T. O. (1974). "Digestion of poultry manure by Musca domestica". British Poultry Science 15 (2): 231–1. doi:10.1080/00071667408416100. PMID 4447887. 
  18. ^ Cickova H., Pastor B., Kozanek M., Martinez-Sanchez A., Rojo S. & Takac P. (2012). "Biodegradation of pig manure by the housefly, Musca domestica: A viable ecological strategy for pig manure management". PLOS ONE 7 (3): e32798. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0032798. PMC 3303781. PMID 22431982. 
  19. ^ a b Zhu FX., Wang WP., Hong CL., Feng MG., Xue ZY., Chen XY., Yao YL. & Yu M. (2012). "Rapid production of maggots as feed supplement and organic fertilizer by the two-stage composting of pig manure". Bioresource Technology 116: 485–491. doi:10.1016/j.biortech.2012.04.008. PMID 22541952. 
  20. ^ Hwangbo J., Hong E. C., Jang A., Kang H. K., Oh J. S., Kim B. W. & Park B. S. (2009). "Utilization of house fly-maggots, a feed supplement in the production of broiler chickens". Journal of Environmental Biology 30 (4): 609–614. PMID 20120505. 
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