The housefly (Musca domestica) is a fly of the suborder Cyclorrhapha. It is believed to have evolved in the Cenozoic Era, possibly in the Middle East, and has spread all over the world as a commensal of humans. It is the most common fly species found in houses. Adults are gray to black, with four dark, longitudinal lines on the thorax, slightly hairy bodies, and a single pair of membranous wings. They have red eyes, set farther apart in the slightly larger female.
The female housefly usually mates only once and stores the sperm for later use. She lays batches of about 100 eggs on decaying organic matter such as food waste, carrion, or feces. These soon hatch into legless white larvae, known as maggots. After two to five days of development, these metamorphose into reddish-brown pupae, about 8 millimetres (3⁄8 inch) long. Adult flies normally live for two to four weeks, but can hibernate during the winter. The adults feed on a variety of liquid or semi-liquid substances, as well as solid materials which have been softened by their saliva. They can carry pathogens on their bodies and in their feces, contaminate food, and contribute to the transfer of food-borne illnesses, while, in numbers, they can be physically annoying. For these reasons, they are considered pests.
The Impertinent Insect is a group of five fables, sometimes ascribed to Aesop, concerning an insect, in one version a fly, which puffs itself up to seem important. In the Biblical fourth plague of Egypt, flies represent death and decay, while the Philistine god Beelzebub‘s name may mean “lord of the flies”. In Greek mythology, Myiagros was a god who chased away flies during the sacrifices to Zeus and Athena; Zeus sent a fly to bite Pegasus, causing Bellerophon to fall back to Earth when he attempted to ride the winged steed to Mount Olympus. In the traditional Navajo religion, Big Fly is an important spirit being.
William Blake‘s 1794 poem “The Fly”, part of his collection Songs of Experience, deals with the insect’s mortality, subject to uncontrollable circumstances, just like humans. Emily Dickinson‘s 1855 poem “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died” speaks of flies in the context of death. In William Golding‘s 1954 novel Lord of the Flies, the fly is, however, a symbol of the children involved.
Ogden Nash‘s humorous two-line 1942 poem “God in His wisdom made the fly/And then forgot to tell us why.” indicates the debate about the value of biodiversity, given that even those considered by humans as pests have their place in the world’s ecosystems.
The appearance of insects, including flies, is an inseparable sign of the arrival of warmer days. This year, I think I’m going even to liking flies too, if only it means the end of winter, and the resulting reduction in colds and illnesses caused by viruses