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Living Organism Care Guide: House Flies

Living Care Information

Musca domestica
commonly known as house fly, housefly

Quick Start Information

  • When your package arrives, promptly open the shipping container and remove the cup that contains your larvae or pupae.

  • Larvae are packed with wood shavings. Larvae are mature upon receipt, so no feeding is required.

  • If the larvae are to be used in an experiment, it is best to do so within 2 days of arrival. This minimizes the number of larvae that will reach the pupal stage.

  • Pupae are packed with paper towels and resemble small, brown capsules.

  • Care of adult flies and the collection of eggs will require additional equipment.

About the Organism

  • The house fly exhibits complete metamorphosis, passing through egg, larval, pupal, and adult life stages.
  • Each female fly can lay up too 500 eggs in a lifetime. They usually mate only once during their lifetime.
  • House fly eggs hatch into larvae that feed on dead and decaying organic matter.
  • Maggots can be used as effective fishing bait.
  • Flies cover food with saliva before they consume it.
  • Domain: Eukarya
  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Arthropoda
  • Class: Insecta
  • Order: Diptera
  • Family: Muscidae
  • Genus: Musca
  • Species: domestica

Preparation

Larvae

At room temperature (20 to 22° C, 68 to 73° F), larvae will pupate 3 to 5 days after receipt. To obtain pupae from the larvae, spread the larvae and wood shavings from the cup onto a tray. Each day, collect the fresh pupae.

Pupae

If you ordered pupae, eclosion (emergence of adult flies) should occur 3 to 4 days after you receive them. This range depends on temperature and time in transit. The fly is ready to eclose when the pupa darkens.

For a successful eclosion, you must cluster and stack the pupal cases close together. Thirty to 40 pupal cases can be massed together in a foam-plugged culture vial.

We recommend keeping the culture at 85° F for optimal eclosion. If you are transferring the flies to a cage, place the culture vial in the cage and remove the foam stopper to release the flies. Adult flies can live 14 to 30 days.

You can hold pupae for a few days at 10° C (50° F) to delay their emergence, but this may reduce the number of adult flies that successfully emerge. The effect increases with time.

Housing

To rear adult flies, we recommend the use of a sleeve cage. Our House Fly Culture Kit contains all the necessary pieces to construct a sleeve cage. Be sure to thoroughly clean the housing unit once a month.

To clean the cage, place it in a cold area to inactivate the flies so they can be removed and kept in a temporary holding container. Clean the cage with soap and water and rinse well. Clean and replace food and water receptacles and return the flies to the cage.

Feeding

Larval house flies can eat any dead or decaying organic matter, such as rotting meat and horse or cow manure. The smell associated with this type of feeding plan may not be acceptable to some customers.

As an alternative, we offer an Instant House Fly Medium. It contains complete nutrition and will support 2,000 to 3,000 larvae.

Feed adult flies a 1:1 mixture of granulated sugar and powdered milk. Place this dry mix in a bowl or dish. Create a water source by placing a clean plastic scrubby in a cup and adding water to the top of the scrubby. This will allow access to the water but prevent the flies from falling in and drowning.

Maintaining and culturing

For full instructions on how to establish a continuous culture of flies, consider purchasing our House Fly Culture Kit.

Disposal

We do not recommend releasing any laboratory reared animal into the wild. House flies are considered a pest species.

House fly larvae, pupae and adults are all nutritious food sources for small vivarium pets such as frogs or lizards.

All life stages can be euthanized by placing the unwanted organisms in a container or bag and freezing for 48 hours. Deceased organisms should be disposed of as soon as possible in a municipal solid waste container away from students.

Biosafety

No Biosafety information needed for this organism.

Video

No suggested Video or Video Playlist available for this organism.

FAQs

How long do adult flies live once they have emerged?

If given proper food and water, they typically live 14 to 30 days.

Is there a way to distinguish between male and female flies?

Observe the space between their eyes. Female flies have a wider space between the eyes than male flies, whose eyes almost touch. Additionally, females are larger than males.

What is the optimum temperature for culturing house flies?

Maximum production is achieved at 27 to 32° C (80 to 89° F).

My flies have mated and produced eggs. How long does it take the fly eggs to hatch?

Hatching takes 12 to 48 hours, depending on temperature.

Why aren’t my flies producing eggs?

Flies require sufficient food before mating. Additionally, female flies require protein to produce eggs. Make sure the habitat contains adequate food and a rich source of protein (meat) for the females.

The eggs are hatching. What do I feed my larvae?

We supply an Instant House Fly Medium that supports 2,000 to 3,000 larvae.

Need help?

We want you to have a good experience. Orders and replacements: 800.334.5551, then select Customer Service. Technical support and questions: caresheets@carolina.com

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