Have you ever wondered, what is the purpose of flies? What purpose do flies serve? This article seeks to shed some lights to one of the commonly asked question from our readers.
Back in school, we are taught that the ecosystem on earth made out of many organisms that depend on one another. As such, every organism on earth should have a role to play. In that case, what’s the purpose of flies? Other than simply being harmful and annoying?
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Role as Pollinators
While flies are not as efficient as bees when it comes to carrying pollen, they act as pollinators for a variety of plants that bees might not approach. These plants/ flowers usually do not have nectar to attract bees, in fact, they often have unpleasant scent (like rotten meat) and have complicated formation. Hence they can only rely on flies to help with the pollination.
Here are some of the plants and flowers that replies on flies to pollinate – catnip, red trillium, jack-in-the-pulpit, paw-paw, skunk cabbage, certain orchids and wild ginger.
Fun Fact – Did you know that flies are the only pollinators that pollinates the cacao tree? Without flies, there will not be the seed pods which eventually gives us chocolate to enjoy!.
[May: May insects like the mosquitoes are actually termed ‘flies’. True flies refers only to those with 1 pair of wings and are characterized by having halteres (a pair of balancing organs) that is located at the the base of the wings.]
What is Pollination – Pollination refers to the transfer of pollen in and between same species of flowers which leads to fertilization, and eventually produces seed and fruit for plants. Pollination help ensure that the plant produces a full set of seeds and fruit.
What are Pollinators – They are the animals and insects (i.e such as bats, birds, bees, butterflies, beetles) that moves the pollen within flowers or from flower to flower.
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Act as Predators & Prey
Flies plays the role as both predators and prey in the animal food chain. They are a food source for many insects and animals like birds and fishes. The fly larvae of friendly fly (also known as fresh flies) are used as parasites to help feed on hover-fly maggots and forest tent caterpillars. Fruit flies also helps consume yeast cells which decomposes fruits on the counter.
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Act as Decomposers
Flies and fly larvae also serve as part of nature’s cleanup system. Some flies lay their eggs in manure (animal dung used for fertilising land) where the baby maggots can feed and in the process, help break the manure down. Blow flies does the same by laying their eggs in rotting carcasses where the baby maggots can feed on the decomposing flesh, which in turns help break the organic material which eventually gets digested into nutrients to be release back into the soil for plants, fungi and bacteria to use.
The fly larvae are also very good disposers of garbage and any dead matter (imagine how garbage and dead matter would accumulate without flies).
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While there’s no doubt that the annoying and disgusting flies are a nuisance that we would rather not have, the truth is that flies do have their part to play in the overall ecosystem on earth and that the ecosystem might actually breaks down a little if they ceased to exist.
That said, flies bring with them a series of diseases and issues. Be sure to keep them out of your property and vicinity as much as possible (by using fly killer and repellents).
Leave a comment to let us know what you think about flies role in our ecosystem.