Flies have existed for millions of years and in Australia alone there could be about 30,000 species of flies. Their extinction is a monumental task that will require drastic changes and measures.
It’s almost an impossible task because some fly larvae can actually survive in harsh and uncommon environments such as inside beehives, hot springs (or other areas with extreme temperatures) and even on petroleum. Right now you can already witness the fly’s supreme ability to survive by trying to catch or swat one. They have impressive aerial agility and their nervous systems have evolved to dodge predators and other threats.
In other words, flies were built to survive and thrive. For millions of years they have existed and survived through generations. But will flies ever go extinct despite their evolutionary advantages? The short answer is no and it’s very likely they’ll outlive humans.
The keys to successful evolution & survival
There are four main groups of flying insects that we’re often concerned about. These are the mosquitoes (the name itself means “little fly” in Spanish), bush flies, blowflies and houseflies. They only have a short time to live but it’s all dedicated to feeding, mating and laying eggs. With only a few weeks to live, they dedicate their lives to surviving and producing the next generation.
If more new flies are produced (and in a rapid rate) than flies that die or are killed, expect their numbers to rise exponentially. For instance, a female housefly can lay up to 150 eggs in one batch (up to 500 eggs total in her lifetime). Even if they don’t all turn up to become maggots and adult flies, the number is still large.
Aside from fast and “productive” reproduction, another key to successful evolution and survival is the ability to thrive in different kinds of environments. As mentioned earlier, maggots can be present in a wide variety of environments with different temperatures and physical and chemical compositions. As a result, they have some kind of insurance that the next generation will live on despite the prevailing conditions.
It’s a similar case with how humans had spread around the world. One popular theory was that the Ice Age allowed humans to migrate to different parts of the globe. But eventually they were cut off from one another as the ice melted. Due to the previous migrations, groups of humans were able to live and adapt to different climates and environments. Somehow finally there was an insurance that human life would still go on in case something went wrong with the other regions (huge disasters might wipe out large groups of people in one area).
This ability to live and adapt to different environments allows different species to survive and become resilient through the centuries and millennia. Death is a natural part of all that. But as long as the next generation is always being prepared, the species will continue to live on.
Food availability (type of food and sources)
Another key to the successful evolution and survival of flies is food availability. Due to their small size, naturally they’ll only need very small amounts of food. In many cases throughout the world’s biological history, huge creatures die first whenever there’s a catastrophe that limits the amount of food available. Huge creatures have a lot bigger requirements while in contrast, small creatures such as flies can survive on crumbs.
In addition, flies are not very selective and the food sources are always available (even in urban settings where you can’t often see dead organic matter). They might be even regularly feasting on human sweat to get the protein needed for producing eggs. This should give us an idea of how much (or how little) they need to feed and survive.
Right now there might be billions of flies in Australia and they’re found in both urban and remote areas. These flies (whether it’s a housefly or a bush fly) feed on rotting fruits, plants and animals. They can easily find those in natural environments. Dead plants and animals are always present even in deserts and semi-arid regions. Where there is life (or death) expect flies to be there right now or sooner or later.
Due to the primitive digestive system of flies (whether it’s a mosquito or housefly), they need food wherein the nutrients are readily available. There should be minimal processing as opposed to humans where there are several steps and enzymes required. As a result, flies often take food in a liquid form (decaying organic matter or blood from vertebrates in the case of mosquitoes). Another way they take in food is by excreting saliva on the food surface itself and then sucking it back together with the food particles and nutrients.
This leads to the contamination of food which can cause diseases such as cholera, typhoid and even tuberculosis. They might have picked up the microbes and parasites from faeces garbage, decaying matter and other unsanitary surfaces. They land on food and transmit those dangerous microbes.
This is a huge concern especially in food processing facilities, home kitchens and restaurants. Even in business offices the risks carried by flies can’t be ignored. These creatures persist in searching for food. They might land on someone’s lunch and cause harm to the person.
Effective urban fly control
Although natural environments provide richer food sources for flies, urban areas also present opportunities for them to thrive because of garbage and unsanitary conditions. As discussed earlier, flies can get by with very little and they are very fast to reproduce. They get down to business quickly once they’re capable of roaming around. Every movement they take might be related to eating, food search or reproduction.
Flies and other flying insects are considered pests in urban locations or any area with humans. It’s like humans and flies are never meant to co-exist because they’re adversarial creatures. One causes harm to the other but still, they co-exist actually even in areas dedicated for human residence.
Flies are pests where humans live. However, those small creatures have a vital role in natural ecosystems. They help break down dead and decaying matter into more manageable chunks for bacteria to consume and break down further. As a result, the organic nutrients will go back to circulation. Both the larvae and adult form of flies can accomplish this. As they break down decaying matter, it gains more surface area thereby accelerating its decay.
In addition, flies are food for those creatures higher in the food chain. Birds, other insects and animals feed on flies (both larvae and adults) which in turn are prey themselves to other larger animals. Take away the flies and you disrupt the whole food chain. It might even result in the extinction of many higher species.
All the different species of flies have some role in natural ecosystems. However, they cause more harm to us humans than good especially when we’re preparing our food or going on with our professional and business activities. It’s our job then to stop them despite their evolutionary advantages.
Will flies ever go extinct?
The answer is no. Don’t count on it to happen because flies are likely to outlive us. They’re fast to reproduce and they surpass us when it comes to evading physical attacks (try swatting them). They can get by with very little and there are lots of food sources lying around (most of those food sources we might not see).
So what can we do then? Many business owners and managers install and implement ongoing solutions to protect their products, customers and premises from the flies. As repeatedly mentioned and implied, flies persist. They will continue to roam around in significant numbers unless we step up and take measures to stop and control their numbers.
One effective way to accomplish this is by installing flying insect control light traps in strategic locations. They attract the flies by emitting continuous UV-A rays and then capturing them through temperature-optimised glueboards. For instance, here at Vectothor we’ve developed such products (HACCP compliant, university-tested and with European design excellence) so the flying insect management programs in commercial facilities will be more effective.
We have various units designed specifically for different environments and applications. Whether it’s a cafe, restaurant kitchen, office, hospital or an industrial facility, contact us today here at Vectothor and we’ll provide you with excellent recommendations.