Microscopy Primer
Light and Color
Microscope Basics
Special Techniques
Digital Imaging
Confocal Microscopy
Live-Cell Imaging
Microscopy Museum
Virtual Microscopy
Web Resources
License Info
Image Use
Custom Photos
Site Info
Contact Us

The Galleries:

Photo Gallery
Silicon Zoo
Chip Shots
DNA Gallery
Amino Acids
Religion Collection
Cocktail Collection
Screen Savers
Win Wallpaper
Mac Wallpaper
Movie Gallery

Fluorescence Digital Image Gallery

House Fly Mouth

The often maligned common house fly, Musca domestica, is considered to be a nuisance as well as a vector for many diseases affecting both humans and animals. This is due largely to the eating habits of this species, which consumes and contaminates just about anything and everything, using its feet to touch every potential food item to see if it tastes good. Fruit, sewage, candy, or rotting garbage; they're all equally delicious to a house fly. In the process of tasting everything, of course, the fly also contacts a multitude of bacteria and viruses.

Although some flies can bite, the house fly cannot. Its mouthparts consist of soft, spongy structures called the labella and proboscis. The labella gently dab liquids into its proboscis, which then sucks up the liquid. If the fly encounters solid food it wants to eat, it drops saliva onto it, turning the food into a liquid.

House flies are among the speediest of insects with an average speed of about five miles per hour (mph) with bursts to 15 mph when threatened. The rapid beating of their wings (about 1,000 times per second) is responsible for the buzzing noise that accompanies a close fly-by. The sensitive antennae of the fly are responsible for detecting both food sources and changes in air currents that signal the approach of potential predators.

The life span of a typical fly is about 21 days, but they can live much longer in cool weather, although their metabolism and active movement is severely reduced. The average fly is about 0.15 to 0.25 inches in length, and they range from gray to dark brown with dark stripes on the thorax. The abdomen is colored yellow on the sides, and the eyes are often red or green. The larvae are cylindrical white maggots that average about 0.4 inches in length and taper off at the ends. Puparia are reddish-brown and are about half the size of the larvae.

The specimen presented here was imaged with a Nikon Eclipse E600 microscope operating with fluorite and/or apochromatic objectives and vertical illuminator equipped with a mercury arc lamp. Specimens were illuminated through Nikon dichromatic filter blocks containing interference filters and a dichroic mirror and imaged with standard epi-fluorescence techniques. Specific filters for the fly mouth specimen were a UV-2E/C, B-2E/C, and a Y-2E/C. Photomicrographs were captured with an Optronics MagnaFire digital camera system coupled to the microscope with a lens-free C-mount adapter.


Questions or comments? Send us an email.
© 1998-2022 by Michael W. Davidson and The Florida State University. All Rights Reserved. No images, graphics, scripts, or applets may be reproduced or used in any manner without permission from the copyright holders. Use of this website means you agree to all of the Legal Terms and Conditions set forth by the owners.
This website is maintained by our
Graphics & Web Programming Team
in collaboration with Optical Microscopy at the
National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
Last modification: Friday, Nov 13, 2015 at 01:19 PM
Access Count Since September 15, 2000: 39642
For more information on microscope manufacturers,
use the buttons below to navigate to their websites: