Most Wanted: Dipterology

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March 20, 2014

Dipterology is the study of true flies in the order Diptera (from the Greek di, or two, and ptera, or wings). One must be a dipterologist to develop a house fly (HF) (Musca domestica) pest profile — a behavioral and investigative tool to assist pest management professionals (PMPs) to accurately predict and profile the pest’s characteristics.

Cosmopolitan, synanthropic (associated with humans) and multivoltine (many generations), the HF is essentially a flying infection. It’s about 0.16- to 0.31-in. long with four thoracic longitudinal stripes. Adults are particularly drawn to disease-containing organic media.
Occuring in the foregut, HF starch digestion occurs via salivary amylase (enzyme converting starch to malt sugar). The digestion of carbohydrates occurs on midgut cell surfaces via membrane bound maltase. Low pH (acidity or alkalinity of a solution on a scale of 0 to 14, where <7=acidity, 7=neutrality, and >7=alkalinity) or acidity within the midgut usually kills bacteria within ingested media. Trypsin (breaks proteins) works in the midgut.

With chaetiferous (covered with hairs) concealment, the HF’s bodily exterior provides massive surface area for pathogenic loads. The hazardous HF is a mechanical disease transmitter of Salmonella and Shigella. pmp

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About the Author

MITCHELL, D.O., DVM, PsyD, BCE, is technical director of PestWest, and a frequent contributor to PMP.

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