Bushfly

Bushfly (Musca vetustissima) Bushfly (Musca vetustissima)

Musca vetustissima

The flies are bad!

Bushflies occur in great numbers in summer, clustering on your back, and crawling into your mouth, eyes and nose. Even the early Australian explorers commented on the number of bushflies.

Bushflies are native to Australia and widespread in drier areas, including the arid interior, but are not found in Tasmania.

Bushflies don’t enter houses as they dislike shaded areas, unlike houseflies.

Biology

Bushfly maggots live in dung, particularly of cattle. Female bushflies crawl into your mouth, eyes and nose searching for protein for their egg development.

The introduction of many species of dung beetle from Africa and Europe has helped reduce the number of bushflies in Australia. These introduced dung beetles bury cattle dung before the bushflies can complete their development. Many of these dung beetles require rain before they emerge as adults from the ground. Drought conditions therefore reduce dung beetle numbers, and bushfly numbers increase.

Identification

Length 4-7 mm. The grey-dusted thorax has two dark stripes which split into four near the front. Female: eyes not touching, abdomen black and grey; male: eyes touching, abdomen yellow with a black base and central stripe.

Bushflies belong to the Family Muscidae, found throughout the world. There are over 180 other species of muscids in Australia, including the housefly, Musca domestica, which prefers shaded areas as found in houses. Some adults, such as the stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans, bite humans and domestic stock. Most muscids are decomposers during the larval stage.

For more information about the stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans, see the stable fly farmnote at the Western Australia Department of Agriculture and Food.

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