From the monthly archives: "August 2002"
What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What is the tiny fly type bug that comes in through the window screens and hangs out on the window glass or ceiling. They almost look like a small fruit fly but they are not. They hang out in the grass as if you water your lawn or walk through it they disperse. Just tons coming in the garage screen door. I’ve been swatting them for almost a week now. Live in NY state and it has been dry and hot. Thanks

Dear R.
Any number of gnats are small enough to enter through the openings of window screens. The Black Gnat (family Sciaridae) is tiny, about 1/16 inch, and often flits in one’s face while watching television or gets caught in fresh paint, or causes despair when they appear in bowls of breakfast cereal. The larva live in decaying plant material, often being numerous around compost piles, and they are also known to infest the roots and stems of various herbaceous plants. Since you haven’t complained of itchy bites, you can be thankful that you aren’t being plagued by nasty no-see-ums, so count yourself lucky that you just get benign gnats.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

What is the tiny fly type bug that comes in through the window screens and hangs out on the window glass or ceiling. They almost look like a small fruit fly but they are not. They hang out in the grass as if you water your lawn or walk through it they disperse. Just tons coming in the garage screen door. I’ve been swatting them for almost a week now. Live in NY state and it has been dry and hot. Thanks

Dear Cindy,
Your hovering flies are probably Little House Flies (Fannia canicularis) which are smaller than normal house flies (Musca domestica). On hot summer days, they can be found in garages, under trees, in doorways and in other shaded places, aimlessy hovering, never seeming to land nor having any definite place to go. According to Hogue, swarms of Little House Flies are mainly males with females usually resting nearby. Breeding occurs in a wide variety of rotting organic materials, and they are especially fond of chicken manure and are often found in large numbers near poultry farms. The flat, oval maggots also eat much of the same diet as other domestic flies, frequenting garbage heaps. To get rid of them, clean the chicken coop and make sure the garbage is removed regularly
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The fly on the wing of the big fly is a normal housefly. The other two look
exactly the same, but are huge. Their coloring is the same as the housefly,
but I have never seen a housefly this big. They do not have the green of a
horse fly, and our neighbor had an even larger one on her window. We live in
upstate NY. Any information will be appreciated.
ThankYou
Tsehdek


Dear Tsedhek
The small fly in your photo is indeed a housefly (Musca domestica). However, your description of the horse fly is inaccurate. The green flies with a metallic coloration are members of the blow fly group which feed as larvae or maggots on the meat of newly dead animals. The Green Bottle Flies (Phaenicia sp.) are very common and they are principally garbage infesting flies, but the maggots can also infest untreated wounds in humans while the adults feed on dog feces. The adults vary in size from 3/16 to 3/8 of an inch and the size depends on the diet of the maggot.
Your large flies are in fact horse flies, (Tabanus sp.). The adults are robust flies from 3/4 to 1 1/8 inches in length. They are grey or blackish, and can have clear or darkish wings. The eyes often have horizontal stripes. The eggs are laid in marshes, ponds and along the margins of lakes and streams, and very often in sloughs, irrigation ditches and similar locations with wet mud and decaying vegetation. The larvae grow to nearly 2 inches long on a diet of snails and other small invertebrates.
The adults exhibit sexual dimorphism, with the females having a seperation between the eyes which the male lacks. Her thorax is also white while his has a fringe of white hairs. The adult females have a ferocious appetite for blood, generally from horses, dogs and the occasional human, and they have been known to trouble rhinos, tapirs and hippopotomi at the L.A. Zoo. The bite is painful. The male feeds on fruit juices and nectar from flowers and does not bite. The female supplements her diet with fruit and flower fluids as well.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

To whom it may concern:
My children and I want to keep a singing cricket as a pet. We have tried crickets from the pet store and from our garden, but they never sing in the house. We have a nice cage with food they seem to like; and we have made sure that we keep males. How can we get one to sing?
Maria in Buffalo, NY

Dear Maria in Buffalo,
I guess you already know that you must have a male cricket to get singing. I have known people who bought large quantities of crickets from the pet store to use in art installations as a sound component, so I know that pet store crickets will sing, though their songs are frail. Additionally, store crickets, usually European House Crickets (Acheta domesticus) are not very attractive, since they are an anemic shade of tan. Garden crickets or Field Crickets (Gryllus species) are a beautiful glossy black and have a robust chirp. Singing generally occurs in spring and early summer. I had a Field Cricket move into my bathroom sink drain many years ago, and it managed to hide somewhere in the pipes whenever I ran the water, though I was careful to not scald the free-loader. My cricket would sing constantly. I would recommend locating a cricket in your garden by tracking its chirp. Give it a cool, dark place and hope for the best. I cannot come up with a logical reason why your captives are mute, and I would suggest patience. Give the guy a chance to adapt, and eventually his romantic inclinations should bring on the song.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination