True flies are a large and diverse group of insects and are often seen in large numbers throughout summer.

The House Fly!

Image by VinothChandar via Flickr

What do flies do in my garden?

Unfortunately, many fly species are seen as a nuisance to gardeners as they buzz annoyingly around our heads, and it’s true to say that they don’t contribute much to our gardens. They are a diverse group, however, and provide a plentiful source of food for birds and animals throughout the warmer months. Their larvae, known as maggots, and they eat all the disgusting things that most other garden inhabitants won’t, such as rotten wood, fungi or even decaying flesh from dead animals. Adult flies are keen to give their offspring the best start in life and will only lay eggs near to good food sources. This means that their numbers can be controlled quite easily by removing any potential food sources from your garden.

What distinguishes true flies from other flying insects?

Unlike other flying insects, flies have only one pair of wings (though some flies have no wings at all). They are well adapted for flight as their hind wings have developed into tiny pin like appendages which help the fly to balance and remain stable in the air.

How do flies eat?

Like my grandma, flies have no teeth and therefore are forced to enjoy a liquid only diet. Some species, such as mosquitoes, have piercing mouths which they use to suck blood directly from animals but most focus on slurping up already exposed liquids.

Fly Facts

  • The Latin name for true flies is ‘Diptera’, literally meaning ‘two wings’.
  • There are around 5200 species in Britain.
  • Their larvae (maggots) are very handy creatures and are used by humans as fish bait, in forensic science, in the production of certain cheeses and even in medicine to clean out certain types of wound.