Have you seen a housefly rubbing its hands together? It is almost as if it were washing its hands. It actually is. Not with water though.

When the housefly rubs its hands together, it is cleaning them. And, if you have the food it has cleaned itself on, you are in for a bad time. Nothing can save you from a bout of diarrhoea or dysentery after that.

Mr Fly Rubs his Hands with Glee [Illustration by Shridevi]
Mr Fly Rubs his Hands with Glee [Illustration by Shridevi]

The whole body of the housefly, including claws and padded feet, is covered with sharp hairs. When it feeds on something, a part of it sticks to its hairs. And that needs to be cleaned. In the process of cleaning, it drops hundreds of germs that it has gathered while feeding on garbage or sewage. When it rubs its hands in glee, it is almost as if it were celebrating the completion of its mission — the mission of contaminating food.

The fly has a unique way of eating. Although, it has a mouth, it cannot bite. Its mouth consists of a spongy pad. To feed, it releases saliva and digestive juices on the food, converting it into liquid. This liquid is then sucked up with the help of the sponge pad.

Housefly sits on a table in the kitchen
Housefly sits on a table in the kitchen

The housefly has a dull, gray body with large, reddish, compound eyes. This tiny creature, lives and breeds in or near garbage. The female lays about 100 eggs at a time and as many as 1,000 eggs during her lifetime. The eggs hatch into larvae in 12 to 30 hours. Larvae are the wingless feeding form of insects when they hatch out of eggs.

The larvae then shed their outer covering several times before becoming pupae. Within a few days, the pupae become adults and the cycle begins again. Most of the houseflies have a life span of about 30 days during summer. They live longer when the weather is cooler. But, they cannot stand very cold weather. The adults die in winter, while the larvae and pupae survive.

347 words | 3 minutes
Readability: Grade 5 (10-11 year old children)
Based on Flesch–Kincaid readability scores

Filed under: planet earth
Tags: #larvae, #weather, #kitchen, #garbage

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