Fly Facts

Susan Syddall 26 December 2011 Science/Technology
Fly Facts: Question 1
Do Flies Spread Germs?
You may have heard it said that flies spread germs. Is this true?
The answer is definitely YES! Flies spread germs very efficiently.
A HouseFly
How do they spread germs? In order to understand this, we first have to know a little more about a fly’s body and eating habits.

Fly Facts: Question 2
How Does a Fly Taste Its Food?
A fly is about 7 mm long. Because it is an insect, it has six legs.

The fly has taste receptors on the bottom of its feet so it knows immediately if something it lands on is good to eat.

Its body consists of a head, a thorax and an abdomen. Click here to see a diagram showing the different parts of a fly.

There are small bristles all over a flies body, legs and feet. These bristles collect small particles of things it lands on.

As for it’s mouth, a fly cannot bite but instead has a spongy pad which it uses for feeding.
Both the bristles and spongy pad play a big part in spreading germs.

Fly Facts: Question No. 3
How Does a Fly Eat?
Because a fly can’t bite or chew, it has to collect its food differently to us.

First, a fly vomits on the food. This releases saliva, enzymes and digestive juices over the food. The digestive juices help to dissolve the food into a soupy mixture.

The fly sucks up the food through their sponge-like mouth parts.

Imagine what is happening to your food the next time you see a fly land on it. The fly is vomiting up on your sandwich so it can suck it up into its spongy mouth!

If a fly has eaten from a rubbish bin, some of those germs stick to the fly’s mouth parts. When the fly vomits on your food, it transmits some of those germs to your sandwich.

Fly Facts: Question No. 4
How Does a Fly Clean Itself?
Wherever a fly goes, it collects particles of things it lands on. This includes rubbish from the garbage bin it visited or the sewage system, or manure from animal droppings, etc.

In order to clean these particles off, the fly rubs its legs together. In the process of rubbing its legs, the fly wipes off the scraps it has collected during its travels.

Imagine if the fly happens to be on top of your sandwich when it decides to start cleaning itself!

Click here to see a video clip of a fly cleaning itself.Scroll down the Wikipedia page until you find a picture on the right hand side which looks like this and then click on it.A fly cleaning itself
Fly Facts: Question No. 5
How Does A Fly Walk Upside Down?
Flies have sticky pads on their feet. Each time they land on something, they collect and spread germs from one surface to another.

For example, if a fly has been walking around in the compost pile in the garden and then flies inside your home and lands on your kitchen table, it deposits germs on the table surface from the compost bin outside.

Any germs which have been collected along the way are also dropped by the fly.

The most common diseases spread by flies include typhoid, tuberculosis and dysentery. All of these can be very serious if not medically treated and can result in death.

Scientists estimate that houseflies carry approximately 1,940,000 different kinds of bacteria. That’s a lot!

Fly Facts: Question No. 6
Fly maggotsDoes A Fly Lay Eggs?
A female fly will lay about 100 eggs at one time. Over a life time, a fly may lay approximately 1000 eggs.

The eggs are often laid in soil, on the bodies of other animals, on plants, in rotting food or on dead animals. The eggs hatch into larvae, called maggots, within 12 to 30 hours of being laid.

The pupae become adults within a few days and the whole cycle begins again.
Most houseflies live for approximately 30 days.

Fly Facts: Question No. 7
Are There Different Types of Flies?
Yes. There are more than 100,000 different types or species of flies.

Fly Facts: Question No. 8
Where Do Flies Live?
They live all over the world – even in the coldest of climates.

Fly Facts: Question No. 9
Are Flies are Fantastic Flyers?
While most insects have four wings, flies only have two wings. Insects which have two wings are called Diptera which means “two wings”.

Flies are very good fliers. You will know this if you’ve ever tried to swat or catch a fly. They can move very fast. They can also:

Fly backwards
Hover and
Fly Facts: Question No. 10
Do Flies Have Special Abilities?
Apart from being able to fly backwards, hover and spin (all of which are very difficult to do), flies can walk upside. Their hairy, sticky feet enable them to land and walk on smooth surfaces.

Fly Facts: Question No. 11
Are Flies are Helpful?
While we don’t like flies on our food and in our homes, they are an important part of the ecosystem.

Many animals depend on flies as they eat flies! Can you think of animals which eat flies? (eg., spiders, birds)

Flies also help to control other insect pests. They assist in recycling by feeding on decaying waste such as dead animals and dung.

Flies are also effective in pollinating plants by spreading pollen from one plant to the next.

Okay, so flies are helpful, but that doesn’t mean we necessarily like them.

The solution: If you don’t like having flies in your home, perhaps you should consider keeping a few spiders in the corners of your room! After all, spider loves to eat flies!

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