We know that flies are a common pest problem in South Africa and across the world. Depending on the environment, some species are found more commonly than others.

If we know which species of fly is currently inhabiting your home or workplace we can provide you with the most accurate treatment plan. The following factors can aid in identifying a fly species: size, lifespan, habits, and seasonality.


House Flies are one of the most common pests worldwide. In South Africa, in particular, we see the House Fly making it’s appearance especially during the hot summer months. They do however make their appearance wherever suitable breeding conditions exist i.e. in moist organic matter.

Large groups of flies tend to only develop in particular environments such as refuse or waste collection areas and areas where animals are housed in groups or close together and where the animal waste is not disposed of regularly. As these groups of flies keep growing around these areas, they tend to spread to surrounding areas.

The House Fly is associated with carrying cholera and typhoid. They are also known carriers of enteritis and parasitic worms.

The Common House Fly

Latin name: Musca domestica
Length: Approx. 6 – 8mm
Colour & description: Have whitish eggs that are approx 1mm in length. The larvae are white/yellow, feed in groups and are up to 12mm long. The pupae are egg shaped and reddish in colour and are usually found in drier areas. Once emerged the adults are greyish with pale stripes on the thorax. They have large red eyes and are approx 6mm in length.
Habits & habitat: Have a wide flight range of up to 5 miles and female house flies look to lay eggs in rotting, fermenting or moist organic matter. Rotting vegetable matter or animal faeces typically provide the ideal breeding site.
Life cycle: 1 to 4 weeks
Reproduction rate: During their adult life of 1-3 months a female is capable of producing 4-5 batches of 100-150 eggs. The eggs are laid in moist decaying matter and within 8 – 48 hours hatch into maggot larvae. They progress through 3 moults before they reach maturity which may take as little as 5 days but is dependent on the conditions. The pupa is then formed and some days later the adult emerges.

The Lesser House Fly

Latin name: Fannia canicularis
Length: Approx. 3.5 – 6mm
Colour & description: The eggs are a distinctive banana shape and approximately 1mm in length. The larvae are upto 8mm long and are grey/brown in colour. The pupae will tend to be located in drier locations and are darkly coloured. The adult has 3 longitudinal stripes on the thorax which are more pronounced in the male than the female and a yellowish abdomen. The adult is typically about 6 mm long.
Habits & habitat: The larvae feed on all types of decaying organic matter but they are commonly associated with food waste so are often found around bins and garbage depots as they provide ideal breeding sites. They may also be a pest within certain types of poultry housing.
Life cycle: 2 to 4 weeks
Reproduction rate: Eggs are usually laid in batches of about 50 with the females laying upto 2000 in their lifetime. The eggs are laid in moist decaying organic matter and within 24 – 48 hours hatch into maggot larvae. The larvae take approximately 6 days to reach pupation dependant on the conditions and it is usually 7 – 14 days before the adults emerge.

The Horse Fly

Latin name: Family Tabanidae
Length: Adults can be up to 25mm long.
Colour & description: Horse flies are dark brown in colour with green or black eyes. The males have contiguous eyes which easily differentiates them from the females where the eyes are widely separated
Habits & habitat: Horsefly bites are usually very painful.
Life cycle: Adults Horseflies have a lifespan of 30 to 60 days.
Reproduction rate: Horsefly mating is initiated mid-air and completed on the ground where the female then deposits the eggs in a shiny secretion. The secretion helps protect the eggs from water. Each egg mass usually contains 100 to 1000 eggs on a vertical surface near water or wet ground. Moist areas like these are ideal for larvae development. Horse fly eggs hatch in 5 – 7 days. The overwinter in the larval stage and hatch in the spring or early summer.

The Bluebottle Fly

Latin name: Calliphora vomitoria
Length: Approx. 30 – 36mm in length.
Colour & description: Metallic blue in colour. Their name stems from the iridescent colours that look like coloured bottles.
Habits & habitat: They are usually found near dustbins or trash collection areas. They are scavengers that are fond of pet faeces and dead animals. For this reason, they are considered carriers of disease and bacteria. The are a common pest amongst dead rodents or birds.
Life cycle: 2 to 4 weeks
Reproduction rate: Eggs hatch in 0 – 18 hours (some females only partially develop). The Bluebottle fly commonly breeds in meat derived substances or sometimes cheese.

The Sand Fly

Latin name: Spiriverpa Lunulata
Length: Approximately 10 – 11mm long.
Colour & description: The Sand Fly has a pale grey body colour.
Habits & habitat: The Sand Fly will be predominantly be seen between April to September. They live in areas free of shading of trees on sandy riverbanks.
Life cycle: The life cycle of an adult Sand Fly is approximately 2 weeks.
Reproduction rate: Femal Sand Flies prefer to lay their eggs in the damp sand of riverbeds. The larvae can take up to 2 years to develop in the loose sand. In the pupal stage, the larvae curl into a ‘u’ shape for approximately two weeks.