If you are wondering why flies eat poop, you’re at the right place! While humans are repulsed by the odor, look, and even the talk of poop, many vertebrates and invertebrates seem to relish it.
In this world full of amazing flavors and delicacies, why on Earth would flies be even attracted to poop? The question is truly startling. But not after you understand the science behind it.
There are not one but many reasons why flies are attracted to poop. Further in the post, we’ll discuss everything in detail!
Do flies really eat poop?
To begin with, let’s discuss if flies actually eat poop. Or do they just love to rest on it? The fact is that flies do eat poop.
According to a Quora answer by Matan Shelomi, an Entomologist, flies love the smell poop emits. We’ll discuss the reasons why poop attracts flies in the next section.
Why are flies attracted to poop?
By default, it’s absolutely normal for any living vertebrates and invertebrates to be attracted to their food source.
But why do we find poop repulsive? It’s because we cannot survive on a poop diet. Not only that, but feces carry numbers of bacteria and parasites that are not only infectious but can also be fatal to humans. So, does it make any sense for humans to be attracted to poop? Absolutely not!
But interestingly, that’s not the case for flies. Flies find poop, especially of larger invertebrates, delicious. Mammal pathogens will most likely not infect invertebrates. So, human poop does not pose any risks to flies. Instead, there are many benefits flies can avail themselves of from poop.
Firstly, feces are a source of nutrition for flies. According to a Reddit answer, poop consists of bacteria, protein, fats, indigestible carbohydrates, minerals, and other nutrients in trace amounts.
The next reason why flies are such poop fanatics is that they love to lay their eggs in such nutrient-rich yet unhygienic places. Flies love the warmth and moistness of poop.
Wet trash, carcasses, poop, you name it; if the thing is moist, organic, and nutrient-rich, that’s probably where flies have laid their eggs.
Flies do so as a result of a common evolutionary instinct, i.e., to make things easier for their young larvae or maggots once they hatch. With nutritious food around them, these young insects can grow into fully-functioning adult flies easily.
Do all flies eat poop?
Another major question is that what type of flies enjoy eating poop? Do all of them enjoy this nutrition source? Or, are some of them attracted to some other sources? Or, do they just use poop as their breeding ground? Well, the answer is that not all flies eat poop.
Some use poop as their food source as well as a breeding ground. And some relish on fruit nectars, meat, or milk, and just use such unhygienic nutrition sources as breeding grounds.
House flies, and flesh flies are the two most common flies that enjoy feeding on poop. So, if you see houseflies flying around, they’ve probably had poop for their recent meal.
How do flies swarm around feces so quickly?
Have you ever noticed that flies swarm around feces within seconds, but you barely see them whenever such organic materials aren’t around?
Well, you aren’t the only one perplexed. It seemed truly mind-boggling until we found out how flies were extraordinary odor detectors. If you have dog poop on your yard, flies miles away can detect the odor and swarm around their probable breeding ground as quick as possible.
You can see houseflies, for example; they can detect odor from around four miles away! Now, everything doesn’t seem so confusing, does it?
Also, it is not always that houseflies 4 miles away will hastily accept the inviting odor of the dog poop nearby. Flies are always flying around here and there, but they are almost unnoticeable unless they bother you directly or come in a group.
And, if you are in the company of entomophile, you’ll notice house common these or other insects are to find nearby.
How do flies eat?
Now, let’s dive deep into the eating behavior of flies. By now, we know what flies love to eat. But how do they eat? Do they have a mouth to feed on poop or other food sources, or are there some other mechanisms playing a role in feeding these flies? Let’s find out!
Interestingly, flies drink their meal, i.e., they survive upon a liquid diet. However, you might have noticed flies trying to hijack your delicious lunch or dinner at least once. So, how do you think they plan on eating that?
Well, an interesting mechanism is at play. Firstly, flies secrete their digestive juices onto the food. Informally, many call these juices ‘fly vomit’, which will break down the food particle. Once that’s done, flies will use their proboscis to suck the food. And that’s how they relish their delicacies.
It also explains why flies are most commonly noticed in fresh poop and not dried ones. Fresh poop is warm and moist, which will make it easier for flies to feed on.
What happens when flies land on your food?
What to do when flies sit on your food has always been a dilemma for many. But now that you’ve read what flies like to eat, what are the places flies tend to visit, and how flies ‘eat’ your food when they land on it, you’ll probably don’t think twice before throwing away flies-infested food.
More than what flies secrete, it’s about where the feet of the flies have been before making a visit to your lunch table.
Flies carry all the disease-causing bacteria and parasites from unhygienic places on their body, and it is evident that some of these get released into your food if flies land on them. Also, the longer the flies sit on food, the more the chances of pathogens being released on the food.
So, it is imperative to clean your lunch or dining table thoroughly and always close the lids of your food. Also, get rid of any nearby flies as soon as possible.
And, if flies have been lingering on food for a long time, it’s probably best to get rid of pieces that the flies have come in contact with or the entire dish, if necessary.
Tips to get rid of flies in your home
By now, we know that some flies do eat poop, and many visit such unhygienic places frequently.
In short, we know that having flies swarming around your home or yard is absolutely unhygienic and troublesome. So, if you have such a problem, here are a few golden tips for you to get rid of flies from your home.
1. Getting rid of disposable organic matters from your yard
Flies feed on organic matters and lay their eggs where there is an abundant supply. So, getting rid of any pest food in and out of your home is the way to go. Empty trash bins and get rid of fallen leaves as soon as possible.
Also, take care of dead plants and woods immediately and do not leave them rotting outdoors. Likewise, ensure that the water isn’t pooling around your yard. Pick up dog poops, if there are any, and stay on top of the cleanliness game.
2. Install tight-fitting window screens
To be honest, it is not at all easy to mitigate the fly problems outdoors. After all, nature is their home too. However, we can get reduce the number of flies invading your home indoors. For starters, consider installing tight-fitting window screens such that no flies can get in.
3. Use flytraps
Also, consider setting fly traps to various regions in your home. You can invest in commercial flytraps or just DIY them instead. One such DIY method is to fill a bowl with apple cider vinegar, sugar, a little bit of dish soap, and a few food pieces to lure in the flies.
Another option is to invest in venus flytraps. These plants digest insects that land on their leaves and eject their exoskeleton a few days later.
4. Seek professional help
If the problem is too big, you might need to call in experts. They kill flies chemically, using insecticides, which can be toxic and harmful if handled improperly.
To us, it seems despicable. But flies have many reasons to swarm around poops. In short, poops are treats for them. However, we should avoid flies around us and our food as much as possible, as they most probably carry plenty of human pathogens on their body.
In this post, we’ve discussed why flies are attracted to poop, what to do if they land on our food, and even various measures to take in odor to get rid of them. And if you have any more queries on flies and their coprophagy, you know where to drop a comment!