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This is about an unattractive part of the puzzle that touches all our lives.

Classification: Kingdom Animalia; Phylum Arthropoda; Class Insecta; Order Diptera; Family Muscidae; Genus Musca; Species domestica.

large fly 25

All round the world there are flies pupating from maggots, hatched from eggs laid in decaying organic matter, spreading disease and generally flying around busily and annoying animals and people. Each common housefly has the potential to commit these undesirable acts for 10-21 days.  The Musca domestica cannot eat solids so when it appears to be engrossed in your food it is actually liquefying it with its saliva before ingesting. Tiny hairs on the end of the leg segment actually work like human taste buds and enable the fly to first taste the food it lands on.

small fly body 25

The fly can carry a variety of serious diseases including: typhoid, cholera, dysentery and anthrax. It transmits them by transporting the infected organisms onto food either through contaminated food on their leg hairs or by regurgitation.

large fly leg 200

Flies have delicate wings that beat an amazing 200-300 times a second enabling them to move at speeds averaging 4 miles an hour. The wings provide enough power for impressive manoeuvres such as instant take-off, zigzags, tight spirals and even flying backwards.  But it is the pulvilli, the moist suction pads on its feet that allow the fly to do its greatest feat – walk on the ceiling.

All images are of flies taken with the scanning electron microscope at University of Central Lancashire, Preston.

The top two images show the whole fly in a new perspective.

Image immediately above shows the hairs on the fly’s leg magnified at 200 times.

Image below, at 150 times magnification, shows the beauty of the compound eye.

small fly eye 150