Our houseflies seem to show up seasonally, after the heat of the summer andbefore it turns cold. The warm winter we’ve experienced so far this year inNorth Carolina seems to have extended the flies’ season. While ours seem tobe common houseflies, they tend to congregate in our bathrooms and thekitchen. They aren’t as small as the writer Holly describes "bathroomflies". They look very much like the 1/3/04 picture that Jackie sent.While Jackie and her boyfriend were on vacation and returned to full-grownflies, we NEVER see anything less than an adult fly, no immature flies orlarvae. The cycle is that the adult flies show up over a period of two-three days(about 50-80 in number) then die in the next 3-4. We’ll have some peacethen and the cycle resumes, seemingly tied to the outside temperature–nottoo hot or cold. Of possible interest is that they also afflict one of our next door neighbors at about the same time (September-Octoberish) each year,but not the house on the other side of us (same side of street not far from a creek).
Finally, my questions:
1. What would you use to clean the drains in order to kill and eggs/larvae that might be germinating there?
2. What is the lifespan of the type of fly I’ve described?
3. Since they seem to be breeding inside and are drawn to the light, buzzing around the North-facing windows, is the outside temperature just a coincidence?
4. As there is no obvious organic matter that these flies are breeding in, have you any knowledge of something we could spray around the kitchen baseboards that might help control them?
5. Our dogs like to eat the flies. Is this a potential health threat forthem?
I am grateful for any help you can provide.
Heather

Dear Heather,
You have such a lucid letter. I hope I can be of some help. Bathroom flies are a totally different species with a different appearance. They breed in drains, but other flies do not. You do seem to have cyclical broods appearing. Finding the food source is the true key to solving the problem. A little bit of ancient history provided by Encyclopaedia Britannica: Spontaneous Generation or Abiogenesis was a theory that stated that fully formed living organisms sometimes arise from non-living matter. Aristotle taught the theory as observed fact. The Italian Redi, in 1668, proved that no maggots were "bred" in meat on which flies were prevented by wire screens from laying their eggs.
The fact is, flies seem to have a way of magically appearing. Flies were also, in the days of the persecutions, associated with witches. There is no magic, they are breeding on something. Adult flies will live for several weeks, but the maturation cycle varies with the temperature. It can be as short as a week in warm temperatures. The dogs can eat the flies without harm. Spraying poisons will help kill the adults, but will make your home toxic. Get to the root of the problem and discover the food source. Could there be something dead in the walls? Potatoes rotting under the sink? They are eating something. Good Luck.

You’re a good man. A good man with bad news. The thought of a dead rodent in the wall had flickered in my mind, but I was able to suppress it before it took hold. Until you wrote. I believe I’ll try the vents first. Perhaps the pantry floor. It would be easier if something smelled. I appreciate your thoughtful reply and bonus history lesson very much.
Heather

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Found this critter in our yard this year (we live in Texas). Sat down on the garden swing and then found we were covered in them. Have never seen one before. Sort of looks like a cross between a spider (the round torso) a fly (the wings) and a mosquito (legs and stinger like head)? Sorry I couldn’t get a closer pic. The camera wouldn’t focus on the bug and not the leafs that close. Haven’t hung around long enough to see if they sting or not.
Sandra

Dear Sandra,
It is difficult to be certain with your photograph, but I’m guessing you encountered a swarm of Hessian Flies, Mayetiola destructor, an agricultural pest in the Midge family Cecidomyiidae. The maggots do serious damage to wheat plants. Adults are small (1/8 to 3/16 inch long), dark or red-tinged, gnat-like flies with long legs and antennae. The insect got its common name, according to Lutz, when the European insect was first noticed on Long Island shortly after the Hessian troops landed there. It is especially plentiful in Texas. Here is a downloaded Photo by C. Hoelscher.

Just finished looking at your page of beetles and think I have found mine. Found this specimen on my patio in Charleston, West Virginia, in July 2000. I am into the hobby of scrapbooking pictures and was including this one in my “Flora nd Fauna” album. Hope you enjoy.
S. Humphrey

Dear Sue,
Thank you for the awesome photos. We are sorry that in the interest of space, we could not include your artwork as presented, but we have included several of the better images. They are among the best photos of Dynastes tityus we have received. Your male specimen has impressive horns. I believe this enormous beetle intimidates photographers into making out of focus images.

What's That Bug? does not endorse extermination

Dear Daniel, I was almost certain that this was a land planarian because of the triangular shaped head. I found it under a log and it moves like a slug. I contacted an expert on land planarians and he said this "thing" may be a larva of some sort, but definitely not a land planarian. Any ideas?
Thanks!
Lynette



Hi Lynette,
I agree with the expert, definitely not a planarian. They are flatworms. It might be some sort of a moth caterpillar. I wish you had a side view of it. How long was it? What about legs? Caterpillars usually have legs. Probably my best guess is a Crane Fly (Tipuloidea) larva, known sometimes as "Leather Jackets". They are often found on dry land in decaying vegetation. The larva of Tipula abdominalis looks like your photo.

Hi again. I guess it was about an inch long. I didn’t see any legs, but it was moving through that slimy stuff, so I guess they could have been there. I really thought I was seeing a worm or slug not a larva but you know I am not too good at this yet. Anyway thanks for pointing me in a general direction!

Just finished looking at your page of beetles and think I have found mine. Found this specimen on my patio in Charleston, West Virginia, in July 2000. I am into the hobby of scrapbooking pictures and was including this one in my "Flora nd Fauna" album. Hope you enjoy.
S. Humphrey

Dear Sue,
Thank you for the awesome photos. We are sorry that in the interest of space, we could not include your artwork as presented, but we have included several of the better images. They are among the best photos of Dynastes tityus we have received. Your male specimen has impressive horns. I believe this enormous beetle intimidates photographers into making ou
t of focus images.

My boyfriend and I recently returned from a week long vacation. When we came home we began noticing giant black houseflies everywhere.
The are huge, and it seems like every time we get rid of one, another 3 appear out of nowhere. What the heck is going on here? They are really freaking me out. What can I do bout them?
Thanks,
Jackie Rosenthal

Dear Jackie,
You (or your boyfriend) must have left some organic matter, probably in the garbage can, and a single female fly laid her eggs. If it was warm, they matured quickly. There is not much you can do about the current brood but swat them. Just make sure there is nothing rotting in the house to provide food for a future generation.