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Manitoba Museum

Flies (Diptera)

Muscid Flies


This is a large family of very common and well-known flies that includes houseflies. Some adults visit flowers to feed on nectar. Others are predacious on other flies or feed on plant sap, decaying matter, or the fluid excreted by Aphid colonies. Adults of many species are known to transmit diseases like typhoid fever, dysentery, anthrax, and African sleeping sickness. Larvae feed in decomposing plant and animal matter.

Representative Genera and Species:

Graphomyia, Stomoxys calcitrans, Haematobosca alcis

Pollinator Life Cycle:

The life cycle can be completed in as few as 7-10 days, with multiple generations produced annually. Depending on their size and larval nutrition, females can lay up to 500 eggs, often 75-150 at a time. Many species over-winter as larvae or pupae. Adults often live 15-25 days.

Rarity Status:

The status of Canadian species has not yet been assessed, and none are legally protected.

Physical Appearance:

These stout, medium-sized flies (2-14 mm long) are usually strongly bristled. Colouration is often dull grey, black, or yellowish, but sometimes metallic blue or green. Their thorax may be striped or patterned. They have sponge-like mouthparts, well-developed calypters, and feathery antennae with three segments.

Pollinator Habitat:

Commonly found in animal feces, carrion, soil, fungi, and decaying organic matter. Often found on hog/poultry farms, horse stables, and ranches. Some live in vegetation beside streams, lakes, ponds, rivers, or along the coast. Others occur on shrubs, trees, grasses, and flowers in fields and woodlands. The larvae of some species are aquatic or semi-aquatic.

Canadian Distribution:

  • Alberta
  • British Columbia
  • Manitoba
  • New Brunswick
  • Newfoundland/Labrador
  • Northwest Territories
  • Nova Scotia
  • Nunavut
  • Ontario
  • Prince Edward Island
  • Quebec
  • Saskatchewan
  • Yukon

Prairie Types:

  • Fescue Prairie
  • Mixed Grass Prairie
  • Tall Grass Prairie
Muscid Flies