Housefly: Mating & Reproduction

Instructor: Bryan Cowing

Bryan is a freelance writer who specializes in literature. He has worked as an English instructor, editor and writer for the past 10 years.

The housefly is a commonly found insect all over the world. They rapidly breed and are not just adapted to urban life, but prefer it. In this lesson we will learn about the mating and reproduction process of the housefly.

Housefly

We all have seen and been bothered by the housefly. They're annoying, dirty, and hard to get rid of. They originated from Central Asia, and they're now the most widespread insect on the planet. Unfortunately, they have an almost co-dependent relationship with us. They seem to follow us everywhere, especially when its warm and humid.

Basics about the Housefly

The housefly, also known as Musca domestica, is an insect that is found in all habitats. They are in almost every region on the planet. They are found abundantly around humans, therefore urban areas have more flies. They thrive in temperate climates; extreme temperatures are not hospitable to larva. Here are some quick, general facts about them:

  • Adult houseflies are equipped with one pair of wings and six legs
  • They have large compound eyes and short antennae.
  • The females are larger than the males, and it averages 6.35 mm in length and 0.012 g in weight.
  • They have segmented abdomens; the male has eight segments and the female has nine, though only five segments are visible on the female. The remaining four are retracted. They extend when she has to lay eggs and aids in depositing them deeper into the surface of the feces.

A housefly
common house fly

Mating

Houseflies are polygynous in nature. The males mate with multiple females. Females however choose only one male.

After emerging from the pupa, the male sexually matures at 16 hours and female at 24 hours. The female has one job: accept or decline the invitation by the male. The male chooses a female by detecting pheromones. They court the chosen female by using an elaborate ritual.

The housefly's mating process is initiated by a male bumping into the female. This is known as striking. A single strike lasts anywhere between one to nine seconds and may occur on the ground or mid-flight. If the female is already on the surface, the male literally jumps on her. If in mid-air, he bumps into her and forces her wings open. This causes them to fall down to a stable surface.

At this time, she can decline the male and shake him off if she chooses to do so. Female virgins are more likely to copulate. In the process of opening her wings, the female vibrates and causes a loud buzzing noise while the male strokes her head. A willing female pushes her ovipositor into the males genital area. Mating lasts between 30 to 120 minutes. Male houseflies sometimes lack the ability to recognize pheromones and end up striking other male flies or dark-colored objects.

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