How Houseflies Work

Helpful Houseflies

So germ-carrying houseflies come into our homes uninvited and begin walking, feeding, vomiting and laying eggs all over our personal belongings. They bring the risk of disease and, in return, we do out best to wipe out any unwelcome visitor. But are they really that bad?

While there's not much good to be said for their presence inside the home, like all flies, they fulfill an important environmental role as scavengers. As houseflies and their larvae feed, they consume nutrients in rotting organic matter. They leave behind picked-over remains that other organisms, bacteria and enzymes can further break down.

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Though hospitals don't use housefly larvae to help clean wounds like blow fly maggots, some researchers believe houseflies have their uses. These larvae were reared at a Chinese housefly farm, where experts believe they may be used to develop cancer medication.

Flies and their larvae are also an important food source for a large number of predators. Housefly pupae contain large amounts of protein and are thus especially beneficial to the various birds, reptiles, and insects that prey on them. After all, there's a reason maggots are often purchased as bait by freshwater fisherman. Commercial tilapia farmers have considered feeding their fish housefly maggots exclusively. You can even purchase frozen or freeze-dried housefly pupae to feed pet spiders.

However, if you happen to be reading this, you're probably not a spider or an ecosystem, in which case you want to cut down on the local housefly menace. Learn all about housefly management on the next page.

Shoo Fly, Don't Bother Me
Humans have pretty much sought to keep houseflies out of their lives as long as they've had houses for them to fly into. Even before advances in science allowed them to understand the risk of infectious disease, many people saw the fly as a harbinger of sickness and death. Some ancient civilizations made regular sacrifices to their respective fly gods to keep the swarms out of their homes and temples.