Currently viewing the category: "Flies"

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 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

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.

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.

Dear AH,
A couple of years ago I think Jerry Seinfeld did a monologue about baby pigeons. “Why don’t you ever see them?” Well I took it as a kind of challenge; similar to when I was a kid my grandfather said he’d give any of us 5 bucks if we spotted an Idaho license plate. Years later I finally saw an Idaho license plate, but my grandaddy had died by then. But I digress. I have seen baby pigeons. In fact, I now see them all the time. I also seem to see Idaho license plates all the time now too. Now I’m not sure if it’s because I know empirically that they exist that I see them all the time, or maybe I previously suffered from a blind spot; like when you’re looking for the orange juice in the fridge but you can’t fucking find it cause it’s right in front of your nose. But what I’ve been wondering for years and never verbalized until now (because you have this great forum about bugs) is: Where do those fully grown, huge flys come from? I woke up the other morning, I hadn’t opened the doors or windows, I had no trash in my garbage, no turds on the floor, but I had a dozen HUGE houseflys buzzing all around my windows trying to get out. Inga (my dog) and I went crazy–me with the New York Times, her with her deadly snapping jaws–hunting them down and squarshing them until they were dead. It took a while. We were both hot and panting. Now I’m thinking I have house hygene issues. Maybe a blind spot. I just thoroughly cleaned my house the day before the “hatching” because a writer was coming to interview me for the magazine Dwell so I’d better have a tight-assed, spotless abode. So my question is, am I missing something? I know maggots are small, so are tadpoles, but at some point they’re little frogs. So wouldn’t those fuckers be little flys before they were the huge, unhygenic, buzzing bastards? Can you explain?
—David M
Brooklyn, New York

Dear Sir,
Flies are generally thought of as one of the great scourges to afflict mankind. Though certain species deserve that reputation, many others are beneficial insects, like flower flies. I doubt that those buzzing around your windows belong to the latter group, but I am unable to make a positive I.D. on their actual species based on your description. Are they black, green or blue? My grandmother always claimed that cooking cabbage caused flies to enter the house. Have you been cooking cabbage? Not wanting to diverge from your immediate questions, I can safely tell you that all flies undergo complete metamorphosis. While they are maggots at one point in their lives, they pupate and emerge as fully grown flies, attaining whatever size is particular to their species. They often go undetected until they reach that adult buzzing phase. I once had an invasion, and a closer inspection of my rather messy cottage revealed some potatoes under the sink that had gone bad. The culprets in your house could also be carrion eating flies that as maggots had been feasting on a dead rat in the walls or perhaps your next door neighbor. When was the last time you saw your neighbor? Often after feasting on their food source, the maggots will migrate some distance to find a safe and dry refuge for pupation. The filth you seek might be a considerable distance from your infestation. The duration of the metamorphosis varies with the heat. If you didn’t succeed in dispatching all the buzzing Muscidae (hopefully they were not Sarcophagidae, the flesh flies) before a few mated and laid eggs, and the weather is warm, you can expect a reinfestation within a week or two. Be forewarned that Hogue writes in in groundbreaking book, Insects of the Los Angeles Basin, that “flies are known to accumulate around natural gas leaks. They are probably attracted by ethyl mercaptan, a smelly substance added to gas to make leaks detectable to the human nose. The odor of ethyl mercaptan is similar to that of volatile substances released during the decomposition of carrion, upon which many domestic flies oviposit and their larvae feed.” Don’t light any matches until you have sufficiently inspected your entire home.

Daniel Marlos

Dear What’s That Bug (or should I say What’s That Maggot?!)
It’s true! The worst homebody kitchen nightmare is occurring in the UK. Maggot-y larvae-like creatures that sloth their way onto my kitchen floor late at night when no one is around. Seven the other night!
Before casting dispersions on the quality of home-maintenance at my flatshare, I must assert that despite my previous track record, cleanliness is next to both god and the queen mum here in my house now, and there are no bits on the floor or on any cabinet surfaces to attrack the offputting vermin. High standards have been maintained. And though I have visited the countryside in the last two weeks, there seems to be no sign of foot and mouth infection either. We have conducted a cursory sniff test and have no evidence of dead rotting flesh behind the cupboards, though they seem to gather in the floor corner and appear to be coming from behind the floor cabinets. What are the possible causes? and cures, short of yanking out all the cupboards and seeing what may lurk behind door number one. help!
Staying out of the kitchen at night in London,

Dear Kate,
Once again pestilence rears its ugly head. The house fly and its larval form, the maggot, is a truly domestic insect, so closely adapted to life in manmade environments that it is rarely found away from human habitations. The species, Musca domestica, is found throughout the world and is our worst pest among the flies. All kinds of decaying and fermenting organic material — commonly decomposing lawn clippings, gargage, and feces of dogs, cats, horses, rabbits, and poultry — provide breeding places for the larvae. The larvae migrate to drier places for pupation to occur, and it is possible that your clean flat is on their migration route. Maggots are also commonly found on dead and decaying animals. Due to the meat embargo, there are probably huge caches of decaying livestock scattered about the country. Is it possible that your flat is in close proximity to one of these toxic dumps? My other thought is that though you called the creepy-crawlies "maggot-y larvae-like creatures," you never gave me any other description regarding size and coloration. Most insect larvae are generic in form, hence the lumping of many species under the umbrella term. More specifics could be helpful. A caterpillar is a larva, but with true and pseudolegs to aid in locomotion. Beetle grubs are also "maggot-y" and many beetles bore into wood. Certain kinds of moths and beetles have larvae that are fond of flour products and often infest sacks of flour or oatmeal, or even spices that are stored away in dark cupboards. The last time I tried to use my imported Hungarian paprika, I discovered it to be ground zero for the meal moths that have been fluttering about my incandescent lamps at night, and promptly disposed of the tainted (and expensive) spice lest the infestation spread.
Good luck.

Daniel Marlos
What’s That Bug?

To whom it may concern:
I am in desperate need of assistance in identifying mosquitoes. I am doing a Science Fair Project and have created a new trap to capture mosquitoes. But I would like to know what I cought. I cannot tell for sure if they are all mosquitoes, or also midges, possibly Punkies/ "no-see-ums".
I have done a lot of research and am unable to find how to identify them and would greatly appreciate some expert advice. I went to the International Science Fair last year and know that good research and information is critical.
Also, if you know of, or how I could find what kind of mosquitoes are in my area please let me know. I live in Louisville (northern) Kentucky. From my research I know that the 2 main types of mosquitoes around here are Aedes and Culex, but I don’t know specifically if it is Aedes Aegypti or Culex molestus, etc.
Please respond quickly so that I can continue my research. I would sincerely appreciate any help offered.
Thank you,
Margaret Ann Stewart

Dear Margaret,
I am going to quote directly from Field Book of Insects by Frank E. Lutz. pp 239-240 since he is the real expert.
Everyone knows a Mosquito, or thinks that he does. The proboscis of the female is fitted for sucking but the male’s mouthparts are so rudimentary that he cannot "bite." His antennae are very plumose. The larvae are aquatic. They are the "Wrigglers" such as most of us have seen in standing water. Owing to the medical interest in mosquitoes they have been extensively studied. The following, among other, subfamilies ( or families) have been recognized.

1.–Proboscis, even of females, short, not fitted for piercing. Wings hairy, scaled only at margin. Mesosternum without ridge. Sternopleura divided by transverse suture. Corethrinae. The transparent, predacious larvae use their antennae in capturing prey. They get their oxygen by absorption from the water. The eyes of these Phantom Larvae are dark. The two other pairs of dark spots are "air sacs." I do not know how the air, if it be real air, gets into them. The pupae float upright and have respiratory trumpets on their heads.
Proboscis much longer than head; the female’s fitted for piercing. Wings fully scaled. Mesosternum ridged.

2.–Palpi of female at least a third longer than the proboscis. Abdomen sometimes without scales. Scutellum crescent shaped, with marginal bristles evenly distributed. –Anophelinae.
Not so.

3.–Scutellum evenly rounded. Clypeua much broader than long. Calypteres not ciliated. Day-flying, not biting Megarhininae.

Scutellum trilobed, with marginal bristles only on the lobes.

4.–Base of hind coxae in line with upper margin of lateral metastenal sclerite, a small triangular piece between bases of middle and hind coxae. Day-fliers.–Sabethinae. The larvae of Wyeomiyis smithii live in the water in pitcher plant leaves.
Not so.–Chiefly Culicinae (anal vein extending well beyond fork of cubitus) but also Uranotaeniinae.
The eggs of Anopheles are laid singly, each having a lateral "float." The larvae are rarely found in foul or brackish water. Unlike Culicinae, the breathing siphon on the end of the abdomen is very short and a resting larva floats horizontally. Adults usually have spotted wings. They are to be feared because they may be carrying malarial "germs" which they sucked in along with the blood of a former victim. If so and if the malarial organism had worked its way from the mosquito’s stomach to its salivary glands, the mosquito biting us is likely to infect us with malaria.
The many species of Culicinae have been divided into genera on technical characters. Most of what we called Culex are now Aedes. The tropical A. aegypti (also called Stegomyia fasciata) carries yellow fever and dengue. Such Tropical diseases as dengue and filariasis are carried also by other Culicine females. The eggs of Culex are laid in a floating, raft-like mass; those of Aedes singly. The salt-marsh mosquitoes with banded legs are Aedes. The larva of Taeniorhynchus (=Mansonia) perturbans sticks its breathing siphon into the air-chambers of aquatic plants instead of coming to the surface to breathe.
So Margaret, as you can see, taxonomy is rather complicated, and I didn’t even get into midges and punkies. Good luck with your science project.