Fly Plague?

18 November, 2007

Question: Is there a fly plague in Melbourne?

Answer: We have had a number of enquiries as to whether the flies are currently worse in Melbourne than in previous years.

It’s very hard to be sure about this, as we’re not aware of anyone actually doing fly counts. As flies disappear over winter we tend to forget how incredibly annoying they can be. So when they return in spring it's natural to think they're worse than previously.

The most irritating fly in Melbourne at the moment is what is commonly called the Bush Fly, Musca vetustissima.

The Bush Fly, Musca vetustissima

The Bush Fly, Musca vetustissima
Photographer: Alan Henderson. Source: Minibeast Wildlife.

These are incredibly annoying, as they tend to try and land in or around our eyes, mouth and nose. Flies do this as they after the moisture we produce in our saliva, snot and tears. The females also require proteins in these secretions to mature their eggs.

The Bush Fly is a native species which has benefited enormously from the huge quantity of cow manure deposited in Australia. They do not survive the winter in Melbourne but with the arrival of spring they get blown into the city and surrounds by winds from the north.

The Bush Fly, Musca vetustissima

The Bush Fly, Musca vetustissima
Photographer: Alan Henderson. Source: Minibeast Wildlife.

It may be that recent heavy rains have led to an increase in fly numbers at the moment. With a good dose of rain or humid conditions their breeding success tends to be higher, causing mass emergences.

If conditions remain very dry this may decrease, but we will have to put up with them for another couple of months at least.

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