Really, Flies are Interesting

Hear me out. Yes, they are annoying. They land on our food. They zip around in front of your face. Their buzzing is endlessly maddening. And they’re surprisingly fast. But they’re actually pretty amazing creatures. For one, flies are overlooked and underappreciated pollinators. Bees get all the credit, but flies help pollinate over a hundred different food crops, including a wide variety of fruits and vegetables.

House fly

Image Credit – meineresterampe

Flies also make a tasty meal for all kinds of animals – birds, frogs, and lizards to name a few. That means that flies are an important part of the ecosystem. The common housefly is found all over the world, too, which points to their adaptability. Next, that buzzing sound we hear? That’s fly wings flapping at over 1,000 times per minute. Interestingly, most house flies in urban areas have a small territory – only about 1,000 yards. But rural flies will travel miles. In addition to flying, house flies can walk upside down (well, and as you know, right side up). The upside down and vertical walking is possible because each one of a flies’ six feet has two foot pads covered in tiny hairs. These hairs produce a substance of oils and sugar that’s glue-like and provides grip and the ability to scale most surfaces.

Now about those eyes. Flies have compound eyes. Unlike each of our eyes with a single lens, each fly eye has thousands. Because of this, flies have an almost 360 degree range of view and can see what’s going on behind them. Not only that, flies have an amazing ability to process what they see and have excellent reaction times. People can process roughly 60 images per second. Flies, on the other hand, can process 250.

Not yet convinced that flies are interesting? How about this – flies taste with their feet. They land on a potential food source and take a stroll to determine if it’s to their liking. Yet flies can’t chew. So if the meal is solid, how do they do eat? They spit up digestive enzymes that liquify solid food sources. Yep, flies vomit onto their meal before eating it. Then they use their long proboscis to slurp up their food. Yum!

So now, armed with a little knowledge and patience, are you convinced that flies are interesting (as long as they’re not in your house)?