Flies And Fleas Advice
The housefly, Musca domestica, once the commonest fly in houses, but now more rare, is by no means confined to houses, the larvae feed on all kinds of decaying matter, and the fly finds suitable conditions in rubbish dumps and farmyard manure heaps, as well as in and around houses. It is one of the many insects that have followed man around the world, taking advantage of the conditions he has created and thereby becoming a pest. The housefly cannot bite us and harm us directly, but it's the liking for garbage and excrement makes it a serious carrier of germs, including those causing dysentery and other intestinal troubles.
Most winged insects have two pairs of wings, but the housefly and its relatives have only one pair. These insects, known collectively as ‘ two winged flies’ or simply as ‘ flies’, are placed in the Order Diptera (=two wings). This is a very large Order, with well over 5000 species in Britain, and its members vary from tiny midges to long, slender crane flies and stout hover flies.
Although there are some wingless species, the flies normally have fully developed front wings, and they are no mean astronauts. The hind wings are like tiny pins and are known as ‘halteres’ or ‘balancers’. They vibrate rapidly when the insect is in flight and their gyroscopic action helps to fly to maintain its balance. The halters are very clearly seen in the crane flies, but they are often concealed under flaps of tissue in other flies.
The flies head is usually fairly large in relation to the body and it carries a pair of prominent compound eyes. The antennae vary from long and slender in some of the midges to very short and bristle-like in the house-flies. Mouthparts vary considerably among the flies but are always adapted for sucking up liquid food. The majority of flies feed by mopping up fluids, especially from decaying matter, but a number of species, including horse flies and mosquitoes, feed on blood and have mouthparts capable of piercing the skin of other animals. Blood feeding is usually, but not always confined to the females.
Fly larvae are always legless, although some of them possess stumpy outgrowths here and there. The last day of crane flies, mosquitoes and certain other fairly well-developed heads, but there is considerable reduction of the head in other flies, until one gets to the carrot shaped maggots of houseflies and blow flies in which there is virtually no head. The majority of larvae feed on liquid or semi liquid decaying material, and they occupy a wide range of habitats, many of them aquatic plants. Many other fly larvae, they are parasitic, living inside the bodies of animals, which range from other insects to cattle and horses.
Economically, the flies are extremely important and, because of their varied habits, and they affect a man in different ways. Mosquitoes and other blood feeders affect is directly, not only by their annoying bites, but also by transmitting serious diseases such as malaria and yellow fever. Houseflies and bluebottles spread diseases such as polio and dysentery by contaminating our food.
Fleas are from the insect Order Siphonaptera. Fleas, lice and several other insects lack wings, but are not primitive. Their ancestors had wings - proved by the structure of the thorax - but the wings have been lost since the insect adopted parasitic life where wings would be a hindrance rather than an advantage. Fleas have mouthparts specially adapted for piercing skin, and then sucking the blood of their hosts. Their legs are well-suited for jumping with a strong hind pair. It is recorded that a flea can jump vertically up to 18 cm and results lead to 33 cm, making the flea the strongest jumper of all known animals.
Fleas are known to transmit a variety of viral, bacterial and rickettsial diseases to humans and other animals, making them a sinister pest.