Face Fly Facts & Information

Face Fly Identification & Prevention

Scientific Name

Musca autumnalis


What Do They Look Like?

Face fly image
Face Fly image licensed under CC

  • Size: Face flies are about 6-8 mm in length.
  • Color: These flies have four dark stripes on top of their gray-colored thorax. Females look almost identical to males except they have yellow coloration on the front portion of their abdomen. They look very similar to house flies.

How Did I Get Face Flies?

When temperatures begin to drop, face flies seek out warm places to spend the winter. Lights may attract these flies to windows and doors, and use small cracks to enter. These pests feed on mucous from livestock, so farms and ranches tend to have more problems with these insects than homeowners.

How Serious Are Face Flies?

Livestock Damage
Adult face flies do not bite, but they feed on livestock causing severe damage. These flies may reduce food and feed consumption to cattle, which can result in less milk and weight production.

These flies may transfer diseases from laying their eggs in manure and feeding on animals. They can pick up pathogens that cause:

  • Dysentery
  • Eye infections
  • Food poisoning
  • Wound viruses

Signs of Infestation

The presence of face flies on or around cattle are the most obvious signs of an infestation. Dark spots on walls and surfaces are also possible signs of left behind feces.

How Do I Get Rid of Face Flies?

What Orkin Does
Your local Orkin technician is trained to help manage face flies and similar pests. Since every building or home is different, your Orkin technician will design a unique program for your situation.

Orkin can provide the right solution to keep face flies in their place and out of your home or business.


Behavior, Diet, & Habits

Where Do They Live?
Face flies spend most of their time away from their host animals, resting on plants and fence posts. As the weather warms in late winter and early spring, adults move outdoors. These flies are present in fields throughout the summer with populations usually peaking in late July and August.

These insects migrate into buildings that provide a protected place to overwinter in places such as:

  • Attics
  • Barns
  • Ceilings
  • Walls

What Do They Eat?
Male face flies spend most of their time feeding on plant nectar near the cattle or horse pasture. If their preferred meals are not available, these flies also eat sweets and food waste in kitchens.

The females use their rasping, sponging mouthparts to stimulate tear flow from the animal’s eyes and noses so they can lap up secretions, including:

  • Blood
  • Nasal discharge
  • Saliva

Geographical Range
Face flies are found over southern Canada and most of the more temperate portions of the United States.

Life Cycle

Life Stages
Face flies go through four life stages: egg, larvae (grub), pupae (cocoon), and adult. They will complete one entire life cycle in as little as 15-25 days. The reproductive potential of these flies is very high since they can complete one generation in such a short time.

  1. Eggs: Females lay their eggs only in the manure of grass-fed cattle that is less than one hour old.
  2. Larvae: Eggs hatch within the manure pile and larvae develop under the drier manure crust.
  3. Pupae: When larvae mature, they crawl into the soil close to the manure piles and develop into pupae.
  4. Adults: After about one week, adults emerge from the soil.