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What Do Flies Do ~ What Use is the Fly

What Do Flies Do ?
The thought came to me whilst looking at a fly in a contemplative mood, that is to say I was in a contemplative mood not sure how the fly felt, what exactly is the purpose of the fly ?
Mother Nature does everything for a reason . . .

The fly is, I think, generally much maligned. I have to say, I had nothing positive to say about them, quite the reverse in fact, until I started doing macro photography.
This opened my eyes, quite literally, to the staggeringly diverse world of flies and insects in general. A fly is no longer a fly when seen in close up and whilst it’s a stretch to say it’s a thing of beauty it’s certainly something to marvel at.

big picture of a fly see all the detail

A Fly Photographed by Myself

But what purpose do they serve in the grand scheme of things ? Nothing natural is here for nothing !
Their Public Relations Image is pretty poor as they’re always seen in a negative light in culture, literature and films etc. Always used as an image of death, disease and decay they could certainly use the services of a good PR Spin Doctor.

I did read that flies do some pollinating though I’m not sure if this is a general widespread function or something occasional, you don’t hear about it unlike our friends the bees
I know the ‘maggots’ they bring into the world are in the decomposition and decay business so perhaps that’s their purpose - portable composting and biodegrading machines.

They’ve been about a while, amber testifies to that, so they’re millions of years, or 6,000 if you’re a Creationist, along the evolutionary scale so they must have survived and prospered for a reason.
They seem to have more against them than for them as far as I can see, spreaders of disease and pestilence they must be amongst the greatest killers on the planet.
Possibly that’s the answer then, Mother Nature gives us disease carriers to naturally balance populations - it would certainly fit in with the checks and balances required to ensure the survival of the earth when looked at through emotionless and purely logical eyes.

The more I think about it the more it would fit in with Natural Selection, the weak, elderly and sick are more likely to be affected, also they cause more problems when you’ve got severe over-crowding.

I wonder whether that is the prime reason then - nature will always try and balance things out for the greater overall good - perhaps the humble fly is a tool for carrying out that work ?

I’d be more than interested to hear any more opinion, theories or practical suggestions.
Buzzingly Yours


  1. Amiguru said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 10:42 am


    We ‘non-believers’ often tend to use the term Mother Nature as if it is a thinking being; a substitue god, if you like. I think that if you could follow evolution to the nth degree it would turn out to be no more than a series of mathematical equations, such as the beautiful chaos theory. Indeed, life itself was an accident waiting to happen. Personal opinion I know, but there you have it.

    All species on earth exist because they fit into a survival niche. If that niche disappears rapidly, that species tends to do likewise. If it is gradual, the species adapts.
    ‘Flies’ fit into this opportunism equation and have every ‘right’ to exist alongside all other species such as Homo sapiens. The same can be said of the bacteria that they tend to transport in their saliva, on their feet and in their faeces. Without bacteria and their dipteral distributers the earth would be strewn with billions of undecayed corpses. Not a pleasant thought, (especially if you are eating while reading this!). Sorry to be so frank but nature tends to be shocking to our minds, brainwashed by manufacturers of disinfectant products. On the other side of the equation, ‘flies’ are the food of many many species from spiders to birds, other insects, fish etc.

    Having said all that, lovely picture Rod, I think they are equally as beautiful, if not more so than your average cat or dog. ‘Beauty is in the eye…..’ You’ve captured the haltares nicely, especially considering their position. Really well balanced ;)

    I’ll get off my soapbox now but irritating though some of them can be, we couldn’t live without them.


  2. Rod said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 11:21 am

    I’m with you all the way on evolution. My personal belief is that the whole thing is due to Genetic Mutation and Natural Selection
    I believe through genetic quirks something strange is born, as we still see in sheep with two heads etc, if that quirk turns out to be an advantage then natural selection will see it prosper and it’s kin without the qurk will die out, eventually all of that breed will have said ‘quirk’

    Like an idiot I never thoungt of the ‘food for others’ aspect - what a half-wit I turned out to be :)

  3. chris keyworth said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 12:25 pm

    Rod flies have there uses.
    in certain parts of Africa they are harvested for food, flies have a huge protein content which is totaly unmatched by any other food source, it has been proven that if you could harvest enough flies to make an average sized beef steak you would have enough protien contained within it to last you two weeks so happy eating Rod, this is one i will let you sample as i am told they taset like they smell horrendous, im not that brave lol


  4. Amiguru said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 12:38 pm


    I love garibaldi biscuits! ;)


  5. Rod said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

    I look forward to a practical demonstration on our next trip, you’re well placed to be Lincolnshire answer to Bear Grylls (spelling ?)

    im not that brave
    I take it then your ration packs never ran out on you :)


  6. chris keyworth said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 1:50 pm

    I will pass on that invitation Rod flies dont do it for me, however i have eaten boiled maggots they are just like eating rice, just a word to the wise kiddies if you dont know what you are eating then leave well alone there are alot of things out there that will do you grave harm.


  7. Little Brother said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 9:50 pm

    Superb. Great post and photo.


  8. Little Brother said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 9:52 pm

    Ever tried locust? I put them on my menu once. Stir fried them with sechuan pepper and shaoxing wine. Not bad, slightly crunchy and a little like chicken!


  9. chris keyworth said,

    July 27, 2010 @ 11:34 pm

    ive not tryed locust but i have tried crickets deep fryed, like you said tasts a bit like chicken you eat them whole so they are a bit like chicken crisps lol…


  10. Rod said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 6:06 am

    many thanks, I wanted a side on shot to show more of the fly as head of the DOF means most of the fly is blurred.

  11. chris keyworth said,

    July 28, 2010 @ 3:35 pm

    i saw a giant fly in turkey 5 years ago it was about 70mm in the body looking exactly like the one in your picture i remember thinking that cant be real but it was there like birds over there


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