Moth Fly

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by Mintz
Last updated 7 years ago


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Moth Fly

The adults are small, thickly haired, broad-bodied flies, usually less than 5 mm (1/4 inch)in length. The wings are often clothed with hairs orscales, giving the flies a "fuzzy" appearance. Wings are held roof-like or tent-like over the body when at rest. They are not strong fliers and often move by crawling on the walls or other surfaces.When they do fly, they move only a few feet at a time and fly in a line.The adults may be attracted to lights at night. Outdoors, these flies are common in shady placesin the vicinity of water, and they are often found in large numbers on dense foliage in swampland.


Clogmia albipunctata

Moth flies feed on mammalian hair during their larval stages and may forage on any hair that remains. They are amongst the final species contributing to the decomposing corpes. They arrives during dry or skeletal stage of death

Arrival time

In nature, moth fly larvae normally occur in aquatic habitats that experience intermittent submersion. They reproduce in polluted, shallow water or highly moist organic solids where they feed on decaying organic material in mud, moss or water. In homes, the adult flies are most likely found on the walls of the bathrooms, kitchens, basements and other locations where sewer drains and plumbing fixtures are located. The flies are poor fliers and usually are found close to the drain or area of origin. Moth fly larvae are known to live in drain traps, garbage disposals, toilet tanks, sides of drains and overflow pipes in homes, septic tanks and moist compost. They have also been found in dirty garbage containers, rain barrels and tree holes and other wet situations where organic material accumulates. Moth flies do not bite and are not known to transmit disease of any sort. The larvae can be controlled by eliminating or reducing breeding sites by thoroughly cleaning the drain lines, plumbing fixtures or eliminating possible wet areas around leaky pipes. Eggs, which can hatch in 32 to 48 hours at 70 degrees F, are laid in and on the moist media. Larvae feed on the decaying organic matter, microorganisms, algae and sediment in the media. Larvae mature in 9 to 15 days and are considered valuable organisms along with the organic film in purifying sewage water. Larvae live in the organic film, breathing through tubes and feeding on sediment, decaying vegetation, along with microscopic plants and animals in filters at sewage plants. Pupae occur in or on the surface of the breeding media and, after 20 to 40 hours, new adults emerge.The life cycle can be completed in one to three weeks. Adults live about two weeks, with old ones dying and new ones emerging. They feed on flower nectar and polluted water.

Did You Know That.....

FORENSIC IMPORTANCE When a body is found, an entomologist will take samples of eggs and larvae and rear these in a laboratory to determine the species and age at which they were found. Some maggots prefer a wet environment and others are carnivorous. Each species will be reared in isolation and may be fed cat food. Investigators will also note the weather conditions and environment in the area where the body was found. Live specimens are taken to the laboratory and half are killed by immersion in near-boiling water; the others are reared to maturity. The dead larvae are measured and examined to determine their age. When the live specimens mature, a positive identification is made of the species. Armed with this information along with the weather conditions, the amount of sun the body was exposed to and other factors, an entomologist can give an estimated time of death. The accuracy may be out by a couple of days or in the case of a badly decomposed body, a couple of weeks. Even so, a forensic entomologist can provide invaluable information to a homicide investigation.


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