Let’s be honest, flies are a nuisance. And we are reminded of that each and every summer when the heat rolls in. However, when it comes to a fly landing in your food, it may pose more of a threat than you realize. So what do you do if a fly lands in your food? Is it still fine to eat? Should you worry about these insects carrying diseases? We’re sure you have plenty of questions on the topic and we don’t blame you! So let’s break down everything you should know when a fly lands in your food.
What Happens When a Fly Lands in Your Food
Like most people, when a fly lands in your food your first instinct is probably to swat it away and then keep eating. However, houseflies can carry at least 100 different pathogens such as viruses, bacteria, and even parasite eggs.
If a fly has picked up any of these pathogens it can spread them in a few different ways. Bacteria and other viruses that can be found on contaminated food, manure, and other surfaces heavily coated in bacteria will stick to a fly’s body and on the tiny hair on its legs. So after a fly has landed on something coated in bacteria and then lands in your food it leaves some of those germs and pathogens behind. However, the biggest concern when a fly lands in your food is fly vomit (and yes it is as disgusting and gross as it sounds).
When a fly lands in your food it isn’t eating off of your plate, it is actually vomiting digestive liquids onto the food in order to break it down. Doing this allows them to lap up your food as a liquid meal. And while that sounds extremely disgusting on its own it’s not the worst part. The worst part is that this vomit is full of germs from the fly’s last meal. These pathogens inside of the fly’s stomach survive longer than the bacteria that stick to their body, thus leaving a bigger chance of disease when a fly lands in your food. These pathogens mix with the fly’s vomit and will stay in the fly’s mouth until the next time it eats causing a greater chance of disease.
Germs That Can be Spread When a Fly Lands in Your Food
Scientists and other insect experts have found that flies can spread rotavirus, E. coli, hepatitis A, and salmonella. They can also spread the bacteria shigella. Shigella is a group of bacteria that can cause stomach pain, fever, and diarrhea
However, before you start throwing away all of the food at the table it is important to know that not every fly is a carrier of diseases. Many of the diseases and bacteria that we have mentioned are known a fecal bacteria and viruses and these pathogens aren’t on everything that flies eat. For the bacteria to be spread to your food, a fly has to land on feces or raw meat to pick them up. Because of this, the cleaner your kitchen, the less likely a fly is to pick up bacteria that can be spread to your food.
Something else you should keep in mind when a fly lands in your food there isn’t a guarantee that you are going to get sick. This passing of bacteria from the fly to you is determined by the number of germs that the fly is carrying, how long the fly sits on your food, and how strong your immune system is.
One of the most important times for you to be concerned about a fly landing in your food is when you are having an outdoor barbecue or picnic. This is because the more flies that land on your food the more germs that could be left behind. The best way to prevent this is to cover your food when you are waiting to eat it and if you see flies buzzing around food that is left uncovered it may be the safest bet to toss it. The more time that passes the higher the chance for pathogens to be left behind. You also want to keep an eye out for when a fly lands in your food during preparation.
A Deeper Look at Flies
While flies are typically nuisance insects, they do play an important role in the environment around us. Flies work to assist decomposition, the pollination of plants, and providing food for insectivorous (animals that feed on insects, worms, and other invertebrates) predators. Flies also help solve crimes and even treat infected wounds.
The common housefly is probably one of the most annoying insects in the world and is often times associated with rotting organic waste, dead animals, and feces. When a fly lays its eggs, maggots will hatch and begin to eat decaying organic material before exiting their pupa stage and emerging as adult fly. Adult flies can live up to a month and in that time can lay hundreds of eggs. Flies don’t have teeth so they can’t take a bite out of your meal. Relying instead on spitting out enzyme-rich saliva to dissolve food.
Because of this when a fly lands on your food or when multiple flies are swarming around your picnic you may be at risk of consuming bacteria and pathogens that they carry.
Summer comes with many annoying pests, from mosquitoes to flies the last thing you want to spend your summer day doing is pest control. This is where our team comes in! Let us help you take care of all your pest control needs this summer and all year round. At Sigma Pest Control we offer quarterly pest control services to help you make sure that your home is pest-free throughout the entire year! Contact us today for more information about how we can help to eradicate your pest problems.