Nature on our doorsteps: What happens to flies in wintertime?

By Rosaleen Dwyer

Rosaleen Dwyer is the County Heritage Officer at South Dublin County Council – every week she gives us an insight into the natural heritage around us and the beautiful biodiversity of the plants and creatures

In summertime, flies annoy us when they come into the house, particularly because some species transmit disease when they land on our food.

The large buzzing Bluebottle with its metallic blue body is perhaps the most noticeable. 

Some flies are important as pollinating insects. 1

Some flies are important as pollinating insects

The grey-brown Common House fly is much smaller and quieter. Both species will settle to feed on uncovered food. 

The Lesser House Fly is smaller again. In the house, this fly tends not to land very often. Instead, it spends most of its time circling in groups under the light fittings in our rooms. 

These circling flies are mostly male flies. In summertime, they are mostly seen patrolling their circular territory, waiting for a female to arrive. 

In wintertime, we generally see fewer flies in the house. 

While many adult flies die off in autumn, some survive winter in a form of semi-hibernation when their appetite and metabolism slow down. 

The larvae of the Lesser House Fly like the warmth of the food recyling bin 1

The larvae of the Lesser House Fly like the warmth of the food recycling bin

They will settle in cracks, in dense vegetation, or in sheds and attic spaces. 

Flies in winter also like the warmth produced by decaying matter in compost heaps or in food recycling bins.

Here, their eggs can still hatch and the larvae (maggots) develop into adults. 

They emerge in early spring, just in time to become welcome food for the birds as they prepare for their nesting season.

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