Types of House Flies: House Fly Identification Help

picture of a house fly to help with identification questions covering all types of house flies

Most types of house flies get a big yuck response. Informally the term house fly often applies informally to any fly found inside the house, and depending on the locations and situation, a handful of fly families are happy to call the average residence home.

When you think yuck, house flies, consider the case of the drain fly. They’re a family (Psychodidae) of very small, moth looking flies that find life in sewer sludge along with life in unclean kitchen pipes. Their larvae actually thrive in such an environment. Cleaning the kitchen pipes with an over the counter drain cleaner to remove the larval food source is the easiest and quickest to solve any drain fly problem.

Formally, the term house fly refer to species in the Family Muscidae. Identifying any Muscidae housefly can be as easy as getting out a magnifying glass and looking for the feathery antennae. They are closely related to dung flies (Family Scathophagidae) and root-maggot flies (Family Anthomyiidae), and telling them apart involves close examination of wing patterns and other physical traits.

Regardless of family and species differences, basic health and sanitation reasons explain the importance of identifying different types of house flies. Fly reproduction follows basic insect reproduction. They lay eggs that develop into larvae, or the more common term maggots. Keeping a healthy and sanitary, fly free house promotes a healthy family, and for practical reasons, keeps the family and pet food being maggot free.

Common House Flies

picture of a bottle fly one of the common types of house flies

A few fly families, blow flies, flesh flies and tachinids look similar and share an affinity for living in residential areas. Apart from the unpleasness of their presence, these flies generally do not present a medical risks to humans. Blow flies (family Calliphoridae) or Greenbottle/Bluebottle flies can easily be identified by their metallic colors. They mostly feed on dead animals and they are present year round in most residenintial settings, including urban settings.

picture of a flesh fly

Flesh Flies (Sarcophagidae family) are named for their larval food source. They are common flies, with close to four hundred different species found in the United States. The red eyes, black stripes on the thorax and checkered body are characteristic of species.

Biting Flies: A Primer

picture of a snipe fly

Sometimes known for spreading disease, biting flies ranks among the most annoying and problematic of all the dipteria species. With the exception of the polar regions, many types of flies get labeled as medical pests because their bites transmit diseases. The tsetse fly, for example, a native African family of flies, are known for transmitting parasites that cause sleeping sickness.

Mosquitoes rank as the biting fly of most concern. While many common species tend not to transmit diseases, their swarming and biting practices can ruin the day of any person not prepared with bug spray to fend them off. Virus transmitting species, such as those that transmit the Zika and West Nile viruses for example, present an ongoing challenge to public health officials. Mosquito control in residential areas can often be effectively implements by removing any standing pools of water, thereby preventing mosquito breeding.

Sand Flies, Black Flies, Snipe Flies, Sand Flies and Biting Midge Flies tend to be regional pests. Florida, for example, has problems with sand flies. Colorado, on the other hand, has problems with black flies. Snipe flies (family Rhagionidae) often live near wooded areas with water sources. Most are labeled as insect predators and a few species are biting pests akin to horse flies. Both biting and non-biting midge fly families exist. The biting midges, Family Ceratopogonidae, live in most of North America and go by a variety of common names such as no-see-ums, sand flies and punkies. The no-see-ums nickname is indicative of their diminutive size. The sand fly nickname is indicative of their fondness for coastal and other aquatic areas with sandy shores, although they are not related to the separate sand fly family, Phlebotomidae.

An application of DEET on the skin often serves as an effective repellent for most, if not all the native biting flies.

Crane Fly Facts

picture of a Crane Fly

Long legs and thin bodies make crane fly species (family Tipulidae) fairly easy to identify at the family level. With approximately fifteen hundred North American species, moving beyond identification at the family level can be problematic. While species vary in size, some of the larger species (over two inches in length) also rank as the world’s largest flies.

Crane flies go by a variety of nicknames, including mosquito hawk, although adults do not feed on mosquitoes. They also do not bite humans. In some areas they are called daddy long legs.