What do flies have in them?

Fast starter and globetrotter

Portrait of the common housefly (Musca domestica)

She really is a cosmopolitan: the housefly is at home almost all over the world and gets along well in many habitats. It has fascinating flight and sensory skills, but can also transmit diseases if it is poorly hygienic.


Housefly - Photo: Frank Hecker

It can run straight up on mirrors and easily escape many of its enemies with up to 300 wing beats per second. In almost every country in the world she lives where people live. The common housefly belongs to the family of real flies (Muscidae), of which over 300 species occur in Germany.


Characteristics of the common housefly

The housefly is mostly brown in color. But if you look closely, you can see her abdomen, which is yellow below. Adult houseflies grow to be about six to eight millimeters long and their bodies are completely covered with hair. Her compound eyes are colored red. They have two membranous wings, the rear pair of wings is reduced to two stubs, the so-called swinging bulbs, to which they owe part of their flying skills. Female houseflies are slightly larger and have a slightly wider eye relief than the males.


Tip for participating in the NABU insect summer

Many species of flies are not easy to tell apart at first glance - sometimes not even at the second and third. The common housefly is also not so easy to identify clearly. In such cases, the observed fly can be reported as “fly (undetermined)” during insect summer. The exact species does not necessarily have to be identified, "fuzzy" observations are also possible. In any case, many insect species cannot always be clearly identified, even by experts. So don't be shy!

Way of life and occurrence

The common housefly can live almost anywhere in the world. Only in deserts, in high alpine and polar regions is it not at home. The females can lay up to 600 eggs several times a year. The common housefly has great ecological value. Because it can reproduce quickly, is at home almost anywhere in the world and is useful in many ways. It is an important pollinator among flies, for example for the pollination of strawberry, blackberry and leek plants. The flies are particularly popular prey for songbirds because they are rich in protein and fat.


It's on the menu

The common housefly isn't picky at all. She eats anything that is nutritious. She has to soak solid food with her saliva beforehand and then suck it up with her trunk. With the sensory organs on her legs, she is excellent at tracking down food. However, feces, pus and decomposition products are also part of their diet, so that they can transmit diseases such as cholera, typhoid and polio. If you pay attention to hygiene and, above all, store food in such a way that it does not attract the flies, the risk of transmission is very low.


Good to know:

Flies can escape danger at breathtaking speeds. It can travel around three meters per second, which corresponds to around ten kilometers per hour. It makes 180 to 330 wing beats per second. Depending on how it moves its wings, it can control lift and speed well. Her swinging arches, a stunted pair of wings, help her to stabilize in the air.

How can I help? Unlike many wild bees and butterflies, the common housefly gets along fairly easily in a wide variety of habitats. But she is often wrongly scared away and killed, whether by hand or a "fly swatter". Instead, it pays to look carefully with patience and - especially with children - to discover the fascinating characteristics of the nippy aircraft.

More two-winged aircraft

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