Common Fly Species

Flies can regularly be found in homes and businesses across the UK.

Identification of the species of fly and understanding their life cycle, seasonality, and habits can help to determine the most effective prevention and control measures.

There are various different species, the most common of which are:

Bluebottles (also known as Blow fly) can often be seen hovering around dustbins.

These flies are scavengers and are attracted to faeces and dead animals.

Consequently they are known to be carriers of disease.

Key Facts

  • Metallic blue colour.
  • Larva - Similar to the house fly larva in all respects except size. 19mm when mature. They take 7 - 12 days to mature.
  • Eggs hatch 0 - 18 hrs (partial development may occur within the female).
  • Generally breeds in meat derived substances.
  • Often found flying around and breeding in dead animals.

Cluster flies are commonly found in quiet, undisturbed parts of your home like attics and wall voids. They require warm places over the winter to hibernate.

As the name implies, they are found in large clusters and you will be in no doubt if you have a cluster fly problem. On warm, sunny days in the winter and spring, the flies often emerge from their hiding place and swarm on windows causing great annoyance by their buzzing and by their presence.

In late summer and autumn, when the weather turns cool, cluster flies may congregate on sunny walls. They enter the home to over-winter through any available access. In the home, the flies hide, often in a cluster in attics and wall voids, in dark corners, cracks, under clothing in closets, beneath curtains, behind pictures and furniture etc.

Cluster flies are slightly larger and darker than house flies, and have a coating of short golden hair on their thorax. These flies normally live outdoors where they occur on flowers and fruits

Key Facts

  • 6-10mm in length.
  • Dark grey-olive thorax clothed with crinkled golden-brown hairs.
  • Wings overlap when at rest.

Life Cycle

  • Eggs are laid in soil in late summer or early autumn.
  • Larva develop in earthworms - feeding on their host for several days. Then they molt and pupate in the soil.
  • Development time from egg to adult is between 27 & 39 days.

House flies are major carriers of disease and can infest all types of premises. They are attracted to all types of food, including human food, pet food, animal feed, food waste and faeces. The most common sign of activity and a potential problem is seeing adult flies. Larvae (maggots) may also be seen as they crawl out of breeding material to pupate.

Key Facts

  • Adults are between 5 & 8mm in length.
  • Covered with small hairs that serve as taste organs.
  • Grey thorax with 4 narrow stripes.
  • Buff or yellow abdomen.
  • Covered with small hairs that serve as taste organs.
  • Complex compound eyes - with thousands of lenses allows them a wide field of vision.
  • The larva (maggot) is white and tapers to a point at the head end. There are 2 spiracle "spots" at the hind end. It is legless and measures up to 12 mm in length when mature.

Life Cycle

House flies are able to quickly mature from an egg to an adult. They breed in moist decaying vegetable matter and can be found in uncovered dustbins or pet food.

  • Eggs are laid in batches of 120 to 150 and can hatch in up to 72 hours.
  • The larvae can take between 3 & 60 days to mature.
  • Pupae matures between 3 & 28 days.
  • On average, the adult House Fly can live for 30 days.
  • Indoors, house flies can be found resting on walls, floors or ceilings. Outdoors they can be seen on plants, fences, rubbish bins, compost heaps and the ground.

Horse flies are a particular pest to livestock and in some circumstances the relentless biting attacks by females can result in reduced weight gain in some animals.

By contrast, male horse flies feed mainly on pollen and nectar. They are most active during daylight hours.

Horse fly bites can be very painful for humans too. They have mouth parts that work like miniature knives, which they use to slash open the skin with a scissor-like motion.

Key Facts

  • Adults can be up to 25 mm long.
  • Black to dark brown in colour with green or black eyes.
  • The males have contiguous eyes, which easily differentiates them from females where the eyes are widely separated.
  • Horse fly bites can be very painful.

Life Cycle

  • Mating begins in the air and completes on the ground where the female then deposits an egg mass.
  • Eggs are laid in masses ranging from 100 to 1000 eggs on a vertical surface overhanging water or wet ground which favourable to larvae development. The eggs take 5 to 7 days to hatch.
  • The adult life cycle is between 30 & 60 days.
  • They overwinter in the larval stage and pupate during the spring and early summer.
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