Flies are one of the biggest groups of insects, common nearly everywhere – there are over 90,000 species.
Unlike other insects, flies have only one pair of proper wings.
Flies include bluebottles, black flies, gnats, horseflies, midges, mosquitoes and tsetse flies.
A house fly flies at over 7 km/h – equal to flying 350,000 times its own length in an hour. If a jumbo jet flew at the same speed relative to its length for an hour, it would get almost right around the world.
Alaskan flies can stand being frozen at temperatures of -60°C and still survive.
Mosquitoes can spread dangerous diseases and their bite is painful. They have a sharp tube (proboscis) with which they pierce their victim’s skin. Saliva then mixes with the blood to prevent it clotting.
Flies suck up their food – typically sap from rotting plants and fruit. Houseflies often suck liquids from manure. Blowflies drink from rotting meat.
The larvae (young) of flies are called maggots, and they are tiny, white, wriggling tube-shapes.
Flies resemble or mimic many other kinds of insects. There are wasp flies, beetle flies, ant flies and moth flies.
Many species of fly are carriers of dangerous diseases. When a fly bites or makes contact, it can infect people with some of the germs it carries – especially the flies that suck blood. Mosquitoes spread malaria, and tsetse flies spread sleeping sickness.
The buzzing of a fly is the sound of its wings beating. Midges beat their wings 1,000 times a second.