The common fly is not just a pest that breeds in dog waste and annoys human beings in their living rooms and at picnics. Flies are insects that play an important role in agriculture, in the food chain and in pollinating flowers. In fact, once you grasp just how much everyday ordinary houseflies actually do, seeing them in a whole new light isn't difficult.
Well over 100,000 species of flies are in existence. Flies belong to an order of insects called Diptera. Flies have two wings, six legs and two halteres, which are organs that allow the fly to maintain its balance and are found at the wings’ base. The common housefly is also distinguishable by its compound eyes. Flies can be found in every part of the world except the North and South Poles.
Bees are famous pollinators, but flies play a key role in pollinating flowers as well. They visit flowers to eat nectar or lay eggs, and as they travel from flower to flower, they carry pollen on their feet. Flowers that let off a strong smell are especially appealing to flies. Among the many flowers all over the globe that depend on flies for pollination are African starfish flowers, southern California’s stapelia gigantean and the Dutchman’s pipe of South America.
Flies also play a critical role in ensuring the world’s food supply isn’t eaten up by other insects. Many insects, in fact, that flies feast on would otherwise become agricultural pests, including beetle grubs, moth caterpillars and aphids. (Maggots eat aphids.) Some farmers will go so far as to introduce various types of flies – especially fruit flies – into their farms rather than rely solely on pesticides.
The Food Chain
Flies have an important place in the food chain, too, serving as a plentiful source of food for many creatures. Bats eat flies, for example, as do amphibians and many different species of fish all over the world, including many endangered species of fish. Even the waste that maggots release is beneficial: this waste supplies nutrients to many different forms of mold and fungi.