Types of Flies in the UK
Knowing the type of fly that’s in or near your home will be useful in identifying the right fly control solutions. To find out more about the cluster fly, black fly, blue bottle fly and deer fly as well as how to identify them, their habitat and behaviour, feeding habits and life cycle, keep reading below.
Physical Appearance: Also known as Pollenia rudis, cluster flies are around 8 mm to 10 mm long and have golden hairs on their abdomens. When at rest, their wings completely overlap over the abdomen. They are more sluggish than general house flies and differ from them in that they have a checked light and dark pattern on their abdomen, as opposed to the dark hairs of the house fly.
Habitat and Behaviour: This fly type generally emerges during summer and autumn and finds hiding places in people’s homes, which they typically enter through crevices and holes in attics, walls or windows. They search for warmth indoors to hibernate for the winter months. If the temperature reaches over 12 degrees Celsius, they become more active.
Feeding Habits: Cluster flies typically feed on earthworms in gardens. They are parasitic insects, although they do not bite like other types of flies.
Life Cycle: These flies typically have a life cycle of 30 to 50 days. In a season, three to four generations of cluster flies can be born. Eggs are laid in cracks in the soil where earthworms burrow. The larvae usually feed on the earthworm after hatching within three to four days. After such feeding, which lasts for a few days, the maggot stage lasts for about 13-22 days. Thereafter, they molt and pupate in the soil for a period of about 11-14 days. They then emerge from the soil as adult cluster flies.
Physical Appearance: The physical appearance of black flies varies. Their body length ranges from 5 mm to 15 mm. With an arched thoracic region, they have large, compound eyes, short antennae as well as large, fan-shaped wings. Although most black flies are black, some orange and yellow species have been found to exist. They are typically referred to as “gnat flies” or “turkey flies”.
Habitat and Behaviour: Black flies are attracted to water that is clean and fast-running. They are aquatic insects that rely on blood to survive. Such meals can come in the form of poultry, exotic birds, and sometimes even horses. They are often found near structures such as concrete dams as well as concrete-lined steam channels, as these sites are well-suited to the development of larvae and pupae. However, they are not known to enter human-built structures to lay eggs or hibernate.
Feeding Habits: As mentioned above, most of the females in this species require blood in order for the eggs to develop. Most of the species feed on birds or other small-sized mammals. Females usually feed during the day, often biting the upper body and head of the victim.
Life Cycle: The larvae and pupae live in water and newly-hatched black fly larvae produce “sticky silk” in order to attach itself to underwater objects such as stones and rocks. Once attached, it faces upstream and uses its fan-like mouthparts to feed on bacteria. Such larvae will then grow into pupae after which an adult black fly will emerge from the cocoon. It will reach the water’s surface and be ready to search for its next blood meal.
Blue Bottle Fly
Physical Appearance: Calliphora vomitoria, or the blue bottle fly, is nearly twice as large as the common housefly ranging from 10 mm to 14 mm in size. The back of the head has long, yellow-orange setae, while the head and thorax are dull grey. As the name implies, the abdomen is bright, metallic blue in colour with black markings. The body and legs have black, bristly hairs. The antennae are short and clubbed. With red eyes and transparent wings, the legs and antennae are black and pink. The chest is bright purple in colour and it has spikes to protect it from predators. Another identifying feature is the orange hairs below the eyes.
Habitat and Behaviour: They usually thrive in warmer temperatures and are not commonly found during winter or autumn. In addition, the blue bottle fly is usually found in areas near rivers or in rural areas. It prefers higher elevations than other flies. They may hibernate during colder months until warmer temperatures revive the pupae.
Adult blue bottle flies feed on nectar. The larvae, on the other hand, feed on carrion or dung.
Life Cycle: The life cycle of a bluebottle fly is about two weeks. The life cycle starts with the laying of the eggs, followed by the formation of larvae, followed by pupae and culminating in the adult flies. The female will usually lay the eggs where she fees, which is typically in garbage, faeces or decaying meat.
Physical Appearance: The deer fly is usually around 8.5 mm to 10 mm long. They are large flies with brightly-coloured eyes and have clear wings with dark bands on them. Although larger than the common housefly, they are smaller than the horsefly. The females have a splayed v-shaped marking on tergite 2, while the males’ abdomen is almost entirely black.
Habitat and Behaviour: Although the deer fly can occur in a variety of habitats, it is often found in damp or well-wooded areas. Mainly active from May to September, they are widespread in much of England and Wales, although they are less common north of Cumbria. The larvae are predatory and live in wet mud and debris at the edges of streams and other water sources.
Feeding Habits: This type of fly has a strongly developed taste for human blood and their bites can be painful. The females are commonly found to feed mainly on mammals and are attracted to their prey by smell, sight or the smell of carbon dioxide. Males typically collect pollen. Active under direct sunshine and at temperatures above 22 degrees Celsius, the females use their scissor-like mandibles and maxillae to make cross-type incisions and then continue to consume the blood.
Life Cycle: The larval stage can last between one and three years. Around 100 to 800 eggs are laid in batches on vegetation near damp places, water or water sources. The larvae feed on small creatures or rotting organic matter in or near the water. They emerge as adults following the pupal stage in spring and summer.
In this blog post, we’ve covered four of some of the most common types of flies including their physical appearance, habitat and behaviour, feeding habits and life cycle. Knowing the type of fly that’s either inhabiting your house or its surrounding areas will be a great way for you to know how to deal with these types of pests.