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Understanding How Filth Flies Detect Breeding Sites Allows Researchers To Develop More Effective Control Products And Repellents

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Understanding How Filth Flies Detect Breeding Sites Allows Researchers To Develop More Effective Control Products And Repellents

A very large number of true fly species of the Diptera order of insects are known pests of homes and buildings, and the most common species that infest Arizona homes include house flies, fruit flies, drain flies, phorid flies, face flies, cluster flies, blow flies, black flies, horse flies, stable flies, soldier flies, and many more. Horse flies, stable flies and black flies are biting flies that are not known to infest homes, but they collect blood meals from humans, which may result in disease transmission, but such cases are very rare in the US. Unlike most indoor fly pests, cluster flies are not categorized as “filth flies,” and they usually invade homes only during the fall and winter seasons in order to secure a warm environment where they can overwinter.

Filth flies are species that breed on microbe-rich sources of decaying organic matter, such as excrement, animal carcasses, rotting food, scum buildup in drains and pipes, and garbage. Given their exceptionally disgusting breeding habits, filth flies are naturally covered in numerous disease-causing microorganisms that they smear on indoor surfaces, human foods, and in some cases, mucous membranes around the eyes, ears, nose and mouth. If filth fly pests were not accustomed to deriving advantage from entering homes where they occasionally breed and contaminate foods, they would be considered beneficial for breaking down natural organic waste, and they would not be known as “filth flies.”

Female filth fly adults lay eggs on decaying organic matter in order to provide larvae with an abundance of food upon hatching. While filth fly breeding materials are common sources of disease for humans, filth flies derive their nourishment exclusively from sources of rotting organic matter. Female filth flies possess organs that are specifically designed to detect rotting organic materials, and they also rely on their sense of taste for selecting the most ideal breeding sites. For example, the antennae of female flies serve as odor-sensing organs that can detect suitable breeding sites from long distances, and their wings, body and ovipositor (egg laying organ) contain taste-receptor neurons that allow females to taste-test rotting organic materials in order to choose optimal breeding sites. Insect pest repellents like DEET taste awful to female flies, which is why DEET seems to work as a fly repellent as well as a mosquito repellent. Gaining a better understanding of the sensory abilities possessed by insect pests allows researchers to develop more effective pest control products.

Do you find that DEET repellents work to repel fly pests?


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