Imagine you’re having family and friends over for an outdoor barbecue. You’ve prepared a bunch of yummy food and you can’t wait to dig in. Suddenly, you see a fly land on your potato salad! Oh dear! You find yourself without an appetite. Let’s learn some fun facts about these pests and what happens when they land on your food.
#1- Flies are able to able to recognize angles. When you use your hand or another object to go and swat them, they are able to calculate its angle and come up with a flight plan to avoid it. These decisions are made within 100 milliseconds of the fly spotting the danger! This helps explain why it can be very difficult to kill a fly!
#2- Flies can see behind them. The eyes of a fly are made up of thousands of little lenses. These lenses are called ommatidia. This allows the flies to three 360 degrees at once. This is why sneaking up on a fly isn’t just a walk in the park!
#3- Some fly species are actually impostors! They mimic the behavior of other insects to avoid predators. For example, hover flies often look like bees or wasps. Their name comes from the fact that they hover in the hair like little helicopters. The larvae of hover flies prey on bugs such as aphids and caterpillars, so they are considered beneficial.
#4- There are flies in space. As NASA is using fruit flies to study long-term effects of microgravity as well as space flight and radiation. The results will help make decisions about space travel for humans. I guess we are more similar to these bugs as we think!
#5- Flies are insects that walk upside down. This is because each of their feet have two fat food pads (pulvilli). These pads contain tiny hairs that create a glue-like material made of sugars and oils, giving the fly an excellent grip for any surface. This is why house flies can walk on most surfaces.
#6- House flies throw up on your food when they land on it! This is because they have no teeth and have to slurp up food with their trunk-like nose. They regurgitate saliva on the solid food they land on, because the saliva liquifies the food for them to drink. On top of the fact that they are throwing up on your food, it is even more disgusting to think of what they have landed on before. Flies will eat anything from feces to rotting meat- which have a lot of harmful bacteria. When flies land on your food, they can transfer over 65 diseases to humans.
#7- A fly’s digestive system moves very quickly. This is due to their liquid diet. Unfortunately, this causes them to defecate a lot. Some speculate that they defecate every time they land- even if it’s on your food.
#8- House flies have a very short lifespan. House flies live only about 30 days. In this time, however, they can lay up to 500 eggs! This causes infestations to arise rapidly.