Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: Flies


Although humans and arthropods have been living and evolving together for all of our history, we know very little about the arthropods we share our homes with apart from major pest groups. Here we surveyed, for the first time, the complete arthropod fauna of the indoor biome in 50 houses (located in and around Raleigh, North Carolina, USA). We discovered high diversity, with a conservative estimate range of 32-211 morphospecies, and 24-128 distinct arthropod families per house. The majority of this indoor diversity (73%) was made up of true flies (Diptera), spiders (Araneae), beetles (Coleoptera), and wasps and kin (Hymenoptera, especially ants: Formicidae). Much of the arthropod diversity within houses did not consist of synanthropic species, but instead included arthropods that were filtered from the surrounding landscape. As such, common pest species were found less frequently than benign species. Some of the most frequently found arthropods in houses, such as gall midges (Cecidomyiidae) and book lice (Liposcelididae), are unfamiliar to the general public despite their ubiquity. These findings present a new understanding of the diversity, prevalence, and distribution of the arthropods in our daily lives. Considering their impact as household pests, disease vectors, generators of allergens, and facilitators of the indoor microbiome, advancing our knowledge of the ecology and evolution of arthropods in homes has major economic and human health implications.

Concepts: Evolution, Nematocera, Insect, Arthropod, Flies, Ant, Spider, Pterygota


Abstract. The occurrence of American cutaneous leishmaniasis (ACL) in areas modified by humans indicates that phlebotomine sand fly vectors breed close to human habitations. Potential peridomiciliary breeding sites of phlebotomines were sampled in an area of transmission of Leishmania (Viannia) braziliensis in Southeastern Brazil. Three concentric circles rounding houses and domestic animal shelters, with radii of 20, 40, and 60 m, defined the area to be monitored using adult emergence traps. Of the 67 phlebotomines collected, Lutzomyia intermedia comprised 71.6%; Lutzomyia schreiberi, 20.9%; and Lutzomyia migonei, 4.5%. The predominance of L. intermedia, the main species suspected of transmitting L. (V.) braziliensis in Southeastern Brazil, indicates its participation in the domiciliary transmission of ACL, providing evidence that the domiciliary ACL transmission cycle might be maintained by phlebotomines that breed close to human habitations. This finding might also help in planning measures that would make the peridomiciliary environment less favorable for phlebotomine breeding sites.

Concepts: Leishmaniasis, Cutaneous leishmaniasis, Leishmania, Flies, Fly, Phlebotominae, Phlebotomus, Lutzomyia


African pit latrines produce prodigious numbers of the latrine fly, Chrysomya putoria, a putative vector of diarrhoeal pathogens. We set out to develop a simple, low-cost odour-baited trap for collecting C. putoria in the field. A series of field experiments was carried out in The Gambia to assess the catching-efficiency of different trap designs. The basic trap was a transparent 3L polypropylene box baited with 50 g of fish, with a white opaque lid with circular entrance holes. We tested variations of the number, diameter, position and shape of the entrance holes, the height of the trap above ground, degree of transparency of the box, its shape, volume, colour, and the attractiveness of gridded surfaces on or under the trap. Traps were rotated between positions on different sampling occasions using a Latin Square design. The optimal trapping features were incorporated into a final trap that was tested against commercially available traps. Features of the trap that increased the number of flies caught included: larger entrance holes (compared with smaller ones, p<0.001), using conical collars inside the holes (compared with without collars, p = 0.01), entrance holes on the top of the trap (compared with the side or bottom, p<0.001), traps placed on the ground (compared with above ground, p<0.001), the box having transparent sides (compared with being opaque, p<0.001), and with no wire grids nearby (compared with those with grids, p = 0.03). This trap collected similar numbers of C. putoria to other common traps for blow flies. The optimum trap design was a transparent box, with a white plastic lid on top, perforated with 10 conical entrance holes, placed on the ground. Our simple trap provides a cheap, low-maintenance and effective method of sampling C. putoria in the field.

Concepts: Flies, Sanitation, Latrine, Pit toilet, Outhouse, Appropriate technology


OBJECTIVE: To explore ways of controlling Chrysomya putoria, the African latrine fly, in pit latrines. As pit latrines are a major source of these flies, eliminating these important breeding sites is likely to reduce village fly populations, and may reduce the spread of diarrhoeal pathogens. METHODS: We treated 24 latrines in a Gambian village: six each with (i) pyriproxyfen, an insect juvenile hormone mimic formulated as Sumilarv(®) 0.5G, a 0.5% pyriproxyfen granule, (ii) expanded polystyrene beads (EPB), (iii) local soap or (iv) no treatment as controls. Flies were collected using exit traps placed over the drop holes, weekly for five weeks. In a separate study, we tested whether latrines also function as efficient flytraps using the faecal odours as attractants. We constructed six pit latrines each with a built-in flytrap and tested their catching efficiency compared to six fish-baited box traps positioned 10 m from the latrine. Focus group discussions conducted afterwards assessed the acceptability of the flytrap latrines. RESULTS: Numbers of emerging C. putoria were reduced by 96.0% (95% CIs: 94.5-97.2%) 4-5 weeks after treatment with pyriproxyfen; by 64.2% (95% CIs: 51.8-73.5%) after treatment with local soap; by 41.3% (95% CIs = 24.0-54.7%) after treatment with EPB 3-5 weeks after treatment. Flytraps placed on latrines collected C. putoria and were deemed acceptable to local communities. CONCLUSIONS: Sumilarv 0.5G shows promise as a chemical control agent, whilst odour-baited latrine traps may prove a useful method of non-chemical fly control. Both methods warrant further development to reduce fly production from pit latrines. A combination of interventions may prove effective for the control of latrine flies and the diseases they transmit.

Concepts: Focus group, Insect, Polystyrene, Flies, Latrine, The Gambia, Pit toilet, Outhouse


The “organic food” market is the fastest growing food sector, yet it is unclear whether organically raised food is nutritionally superior to conventionally grown food and whether consuming organic food bestows health benefits. In order to evaluate potential health benefits of organic foods, we used the well-characterized fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster as a model system. Fruit flies were raised on a diets consisting of extracts of either conventionally or organically raised produce (bananas, potatoes, raisins, soy beans). Flies were then subjected to a variety of tests designed to assess overall fly health. Flies raised on diets made from organically grown produce had greater fertility and longevity. On certain food sources, greater activity and greater stress resistance was additionally observed, suggesting that organic food bestows positive effects on fly health. Our data show that Drosophila can be used as a convenient model system to experimentally test potential health effects of dietary components. Using this system, we provide evidence that organically raised food may provide animals with tangible benefits to overall health.

Concepts: Nutrition, Model organism, Drosophila melanogaster, Drosophila, Organic farming, Flies, Organic food, Sustainable agriculture


The life-like fidelity of organisms captured in amber is unique among all kinds of fossilization and represents an invaluable source for different fields of palaeontological and biological research. One of the most challenging aspects in amber research is the study of traits related to behaviour. Here, indirect evidence for pheromone-mediated mating behaviour is recorded from a biting midge (Ceratopogonidae) in 54 million-year-old Indian amber. Camptopterohelea odora n. sp. exhibits a complex, pocket shaped structure on the wings, which resembles the wing folds of certain moth flies (Diptera: Psychodidae) and scent organs that are only known from butterflies and moths (Lepidoptera) so far. Our studies suggests that pheromone releasing structures on the wings have evolved independently in biting midges and might be much more widespread in fossil as well as modern insects than known so far.

Concepts: Nematocera, Insect, Order, Lepidoptera, Flies, Pollinators, Moth, Butterfly


Calyptrate flies include about 22,000 extant species currently classified into Hippoboscoidea (tsetse, louse, and bat flies), the muscoid grade (house flies and relatives) and the Oestroidea (blow flies, bot flies, flesh flies, and relatives). Calyptrates are abundant in nearly all terrestrial ecosystems, often playing key roles as decomposers, parasites, parasitoids, vectors of pathogens, and pollinators. For oestroids, the most diverse group within calyptrates, definitive fossils have been lacking. The first unambiguous fossil of Oestroidea is described based on a specimen discovered in amber from the Dominican Republic. The specimen was identified through digital dissection by CT scans, which provided morphological data for a cladistic analysis of its phylogenetic position among extant oestroids. The few known calyptrate fossils were used as calibration points for a molecular phylogeny (16S, 28S, CAD) to estimate the timing of major diversification events among the Oestroidea. Results indicate that: (a) the fossil belongs to the family Mesembrinellidae, and it is identified and described as Mesembrinella caenozoica sp. nov.; (b) the mesembrinellids form a sister clade to the Australian endemic Ulurumyia macalpinei (Ulurumyiidae) (McAlpine’s fly), which in turn is sister to all remaining oestroids; © the most recent common ancestor of extant Calyptratae lived just before the K-Pg boundary (ca. 70 mya); and (d) the radiation of oestroids began in the Eocene (ca. 50 mya), with the origin of the family Mesembrinellidae dated at ca. 40 mya. These results provide new insight into the timing and rate of oestroid diversification and highlight the rapid radiation of some of the most diverse and ecologically important families of flies. ZooBank accession

Concepts: Insect, Phylogenetic tree, Phylogenetics, Cladistics, Clade, Flies, Hippoboscoidea, Calyptratae


A survey to determine current prevalence of Gasterophilus spp. (bot flies) in equids (n=400) at necropsy in slaughtered horses was conducted at the abattoir in Rawicz. The evaluation was performed according to sex, age, larval stages, severity of infestation and localization, respectively. Only Gasterophilus intestinalis and Gasterophilus nasalis were detected. The prevalence determined in the eastern part of Poland was of 47%. The high prevalence of this parasite infection in the Polish horse population confirms that Gasterophilosis spp. has to be taken into serious consideration and prophylactic measures might be indicated.

Concepts: Larva, Horse, Flies, Equus, Equidae, Oestridae, Myiasis, Equine parasites


Correct species identification is critical when dipteran larvae are used for inference of the postmortem interval. To facilitate DNA-based identification of forensically important flies of the genus Lucilia in the continental United States, we develop a vouchered reference collection and DNA sequence database. A total of 122 specimens were collected for nine of the 10 species of Lucilia reported to occur in the continental United States. Using the polymerase chain reaction and DNA sequencing, data were obtained for an 1100-bp region of the mitochondrial gene encoding cytochrome oxidase I (COI). We consider a species suitable for DNA-based identification if it is exclusively monophyletic in >95% of bootstrap pseudoreplicate phylogenetic analyses. Seven of the nine species meet that criterion. Two species (Lucilia coeruleiviridis and Lucilia mexicana) share COI sequence and cannot be distinguished using our reference database. We conclude that DNA-based identification is likely to be successful for the other seven species.

Concepts: DNA, Polymerase chain reaction, Molecular biology, Biology, DNA sequencing, DNA polymerase, Flies, Calliphoridae


The stable fly, Stomoxys calcitrans (L.) (Diptera: Muscidae), is one of the most significant biting flies that affect cattle. The use of traditional insecticides for stable fly control has only a limited success owing to the insect’s unique feeding behaviours and immature development sites. A laboratory study was conducted to evaluate the effects of two insect growth regulator (IGR) products, pyriproxyfen and buprofezin, on the development of the immature stages of the stable fly and the effects of pyriproxyfen on oviposition and egg hatch. Both pyriproxyfen and buprofezin had significant inhibitory effects on immature development. The LC(50) s of pyriproxyfen and buprofezin were 0.002 and 18.92 p.p.m., respectively. Topical treatment of adult females with different doses of pyriproxyfen had significant negative effects on both female oviposition and egg hatching when 1- and 3-day-old females were treated, and the effects were dose dependent. A significant reduction in the mean number of eggs laid was observed only at the highest pyriproxyfen dose (8 µg/fly) and egg hatch was unaffected by pyriproxyfen treatment when 5-day-old females were treated. Results from the present study indicate that pyriproxyfen has the potential to be used as part of an integrated stable fly management programme.

Concepts: Male, Insect, Arithmetic mean, Flies, Fly, Stable fly, Muscidae, Stomoxys