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Cluster flies are common flies in Delaware homes during fall and early spring. Slightly larger than house flies, cluster flies are awkward, noisy fliers. They are attracted to lights and windows.
They are black and a little larger than house flies, from 3/8- to 1/2-inch long, with short, yellow hairs on the thorax. Their wings overlap when at rest.
Adult cluster flies are slightly larger than the common house fly, Musca domestica . They are dull-gray with black markings and have golden-yellow hairs on the thorax, which can give the appearance of a golden sheen. The hairs are more numerous on the under side of the thorax between and near the legs.
The immature stages, egg and larva, are seldom seen as the eggs are deposited on the soil and the larva or maggots burrow into earthworms on which they feed. The maggots are cream colored and are an elongated wedge shape. As members of the fly family Calliphoridae, the blow flies, the maggots resemble other blow flies commonly found on decaying carrion.
Adult female flies that have survived the winter deposit eggs in cracks and crevices in the soil. The larvae, upon hatching, parasitize the earthworm Allolobophora rosea. This earthworm is red and about one inch in length when contracted (these earthworms are not the large earthworms, Lumbricus terrestris, commonly seen in the soil). Control of earthworms to control the cluster fly is not recommended or effective, since flies may have originated from up to a mile away from the site of infestation.
Life Cycle :The total developmental period of the fly, from egg to adult, varies from 27 to 39 days, depending upon temperature and other environmental factors. Cluster flies can be found in fields throughout the summer, and movement towards shelter appears to be initiated by a sudden drop in temperature. From this point on, the behavior of the flies is characteristic in the afternoon they settle on the upper parts of walls and on roofs, facing south or southwest, sunning themselves.
As the sun sets, they crawl into any crevice on the exterior of buildings, but usually near the roof. For a few days, they come out during the day and return to the warmth of the building at night. Eventually they continue to move into the interior of the building and remain there to spend the winter. As warm spells occur throughout the winter, flies may break their dormancy and begin to move about inside the infested building. Flies that survive the winter reverse the behavior exhibited during the fall, emerge, and begin the next generation.
Prevent:The best solution is to prevent flies from entering a building in the first place. Youâ€™ll need to take steps before mid-September when they start looking for a place to hide. Adult cluster flies congregate on the sunny sides of a building and crawl upward as the day warms during late summer and early fall. If it finds an opening, the fly will crawl inside.
To make the building fly-proof, seal or caulk all cracks in siding, along eaves and overhangs, around door and window frames, siding, and especially soffits. Also check roof vents, ventilators, and vent fans for screening that is small enough to exclude the flies. If the flies are a problem in only one area, it usually signals which side of the building the flies entered. Screening, sealing, and caulking will also help to keep out the multi-colored Asian lady beetle, a 19-spotted orange beetle that also migrates indoors in the fall.
Control: TIf cluster flies are indoors, you can use a vacuum to collect them. Cluster flies move from walls and attic into the living space through openings in ceiling fixtures and around window casings and electri- cal outlets. Sealing or taping these openings can reduce the nuisance problem. Another solution is to place fly light traps in the dark voids of false ceilings to help reduce fly numbers. Insect bombs are of little long-term help as they kill only the flies that are exposed but not the flies hidden in walls or attics.
Cluster Fly Larvae
When a building cannot be sealed properly, residual sprays can be used. Spraying has several draw-backs: it must be reapplied each year, proper timing is critical, and cost. Sprays must be applied to the outside walls of the structure during the late summer or early fall before the flies get into the walls. The south and west sides of buildings usually have the largest number of flies resting on the outside. Be sure to treat all areas of walls on overhangs.
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