Bush Fly Facts

Bush Fly Facts

Bush Fly Facts

Following recent large demand for our product in the Northern, Central and South-Western Queensland region (including towns such as Mt Isa, Winton and Longreach) we have put together a few useful Bush Fly Facts with the kind assistance of Dr Christine Lambkin. If you would like to know more about a fly that is specific to your region, we would love to hear from you (email julian@naturesbotanical.com).


A few key interesting facts are:

  • Bush flies in their pre-adult stage are drought resistant and lay “dormant” in the soil for years until the conditions are right to emerge. Conditions include availability of water and protein and temperature;
  • Bush flies can be blown in from the North or Central Australia by winds and storms;
  • Bush flies are so annoying as they feed on moisture from our skin, eyes, mouth and nose…errrr.

Whilst Dr Lambkin is a Dipterist (ie a “fly expert”) her specific field of work focusses on Bee and Stiletto Flies. The more annoying bush fly which is prevalent in the region and much of rural Australia is not her specific area of expertise (or anyone’s to our knowledge).

The inundation of bush flies has followed from the deluge of rain that occurred in the region in March this year.

Images of flies in various states of “rest” provided by Winton Pharmacy, the subject of this Blog.

We put the following questions to Dr Lambkin, which she provided very useful answers to:

Nature’s Botanical “Can you give some colour as to what species of fly are currently being such a nuisance in the region”

Dr Lambkin “There are an estimated 40,000 fly species in Australia – in 110 different Families – only 25% have a scientific name”

After providing samples with the help of the Winton Pharmacy, Dr Lambkin determined the specimens to be the Bush Fly (Musca vetustissima). We were also pointed in the direction of these very useful sites to help Australians identify fly species they may encounter:




Nature’s Botanical “What are their breeding cycle, when are they active and how long they live for?”

Dr Lambkin “The female Bush Fly lays eggs in moist dung or manure.  These eggs hatch into Maggots which feed on the dung. The maggots undergo 3 instars (moults), pupating in the soil in a cylindrical brown cocoon.

The pupa is drought resistant and can stay in the soil for a long time – even years. An adult emerges from the pupa only when conditions are right (temperature – 27.5 degrees C is perfect, moisture is required– especially from rain).

Following emergence from the pupa adults take about 3 days to be sexually mature. Adults can live for months if conditions are suitable, namely sufficient moisture and protein, and preferred temperature.  Adult females can have up to 50 eggs in a batch – and up to 5 batches/ female.

Adults can be blown in – especially from the northern or central Australia, where they are able to breed and live all year round.

From egg to adult may take only 2 weeks.

Nature’s Botanical “Why are the flies in such vast volumes this time of year?”

Dr Lambkin Whether the volumes are higher or not, the key reasons for a rapid inundation may be:

  • The flies may have only emerged from their pupal stage after spending years in that stage awaiting the right conditions; ie availability of food, moisture, humidity and temperature;
  • Predators or parasites or other organisms that help reduce numbers or development rates may not have responded to the conditions as quickly. [For example, the introduced Dung Beetle]
  • The Bush Fly adults emerged because of the rain, mated and laid eggs, maggots developed quickly as it was still warm, in available dung – as cattle responded to eating the new grass,
  • The dung beetles have not responded as quickly – and have been unable to bury as much dung as has rapidly appeared!
  • Adults may have blown in from further north with storms or winds.”

Nature’s Botanical “Why are the Bush Flies so annoying?”

Dr Lambkin “they are such a nuisance as they need protein for egg development – from your skin, sweat, eyes, nose…”

For high-quality rosemary and cedarwood natural fly repellent, reach Nature’s Botanical by giving us a call at +61 2 4872-2200.

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