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Sewer-Dwelling Dung Flies Can Be A Threat To Public Health By Spreading Disease And Blocking Sewer Drains

February 4th, 2019

Many types of winged insects are referred to as “flies,” but the only true flies are the species that belong to the Diptera order. The Diptera order comprises all 120,000 fly species, making it one of the largest insect orders. Of course, there remains thousands of additional fly species that have yet to be documented by researchers. In fact, researchers suspect that there may exist well over 1,000,000 fly species in total  on earth. There are 188 different fly families that currently make up the Diptera order. All of these families are known by common names, such as fruit flies, bot flies or horse flies, just to name three. One of the filthiest and most repulsive fly families that is known to exist is the dung fly.

The particular environment that these flies naturally prefer is what makes the dung fly a particularly unsanitary creature, as well as a potential carrier of disease-causing pathogens. Dung flies, as their name suggests, are attracted to animal waste, and when it comes to which animals’ waste they prefer, the dung fly does not discriminate, but they typically prefer to dwell within environments where human or livestock waste are abundant, as these are the most accessible sources of bodily waste. The dung fly requires a dung filled habitat in order to thrive and reproduce. This is why dung flies are rarely seen buzzing around in the open air. Sewers and septic systems are popular hangouts for dung flies, and they will come to infest any indoor area containing adequate amounts of feces.

As you can probably guess, dung flies are considered pests in every one of the many regions of the world where they can be found. Dung fly populations in sewers have been known to proliferate to the point where their bodies pile all all the way up to sewer ceilings, which often blocks sewer drains. These flies sometimes block the drains in buildings that lead to sewer systems, which can lead to overflows. These blockages can sometimes expose humans to massive amounts of waste, putting their health at risk. Naturally, dung flies carry many disease-causing microbes by virtue of their habitat, but since they prefer to be surrounded by copious amounts of dung, humans rarely encounter dung flies while outdoors. However, one dung fly species is believed to cause human intestinal myiasis on occasion. In addition to digestive waste, dung flies also gravitate toward rotting corpses, as they are considered carrion flies. While dung flies are considered pests, they do provide an ecological service by decomposing manure and compost.

Have you found that most, or all, fly species seem to be attracted to digestive waste?

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