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What's that humming in the house, yard and garden? Flies are just about everywhere. There are around 5,000 different types of flies in Germany, of which we present the 18 most common here.

In a nutshell

  • great biodiversity
  • very different in appearance and lifestyle
  • around 5000 different fly species in Germany
  • including both pests and beneficials
  • some species transmit diseases

Great biodiversity

Flies (Brachycera) belong together with mosquitoes (Nematocera) to the order Diptera. Their common feature is that both groups have only two forewings and the hindwings are stunted. From a biological point of view, there is no such thing as "the" flies, since these suborders are grouped into numerous families. The numerous species show an enormous diversity in appearance and lifestyle. Incidentally, the specification of 5000 species in Germany is only an estimate. Nobody can say exactly how many fly species there are.

Flowerflies (Anthomyiidae)

Flower flies are small, inconspicuous flies that feed on flower nectar and pollen. Their larvae also often feed on plant food, for example on mushrooms or in washed-up seaweed. There are around 200 different species in Central Europe.

Fallow Fly (Delia coarctata)

Source: Katja Schulz from Washington, D.C., USA, Root-Maggot Fly (34435226551), edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0
  • Habitat: fields, meadows
  • Diet: Grasses, especially cereals
  • Body length: 6 to 7 millimeters
  • External characteristics: yellowish-grey body with black bristles, yellowish wings, legs black in males and yellow in females
  • Specialties: Grain pest

Lesser cabbage fly (Delia radicum)

Source: AfroBrazilian, Delia radicum 01, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Habitat: Gardens, canola and vegetable fields
  • Diet: Larvae eat the roots of cruciferous vegetables, v. a. Cabbage, radish, canola
  • Body length: 3 to 11 millimeters
  • External characteristics: gray color throughout, legs and body heavily bristled
  • Special features: vegetable pest

Boreflies (Tephritidae)

In Central Europe, the borer fly family comprises 68 genera with 264 different species, many of which are regarded as serious pests in agriculture and fruit growing. Their maggot-like larvae live exclusively inside plants and fruits, with some species also forming plant galls. The strikingly drawn wings are typical of this fly species.

Cherry fruit fly (Rhagoletis cerasi)

Source: By ©entomartIn case of publication or commercial use, Entomart wishes then to be warned (, but this without obligation. Thank you., Attribution,
  • Habitat: gardens with cherry trees, cherry orchards
  • Diet: Cherries, with the exception of morello cherries
  • Body length: 4 to 5 millimeters
  • External characteristics: black with yellow tab, transparent wings with dark bands
  • Special features: needs warmth, therefore mainly found in warm locations, pest

Celery fly (Euleia heraclei)

  • Habitat: in gardens, widespread
  • Diet: Umbelliferous plants such as celery, parsnips, parsley etc.
  • Body length: 4 to 6 millimeters
  • External characteristics: body yellow-red or blackish, wings banded with black
  • Special features: vegetable pest

Horseflies (Tabanidae)

Horseflies are among the blood-sucking species of flies that sting both humans and animals. They are also known under the name botfly, especially in northern Germany.

Notice: A horsefly bite is not only painful, it can also transmit diseases like Lyme disease.

Horsefly (Tabanus bromius)

Source: By ©entomartIn case of publication or commercial use, Entomart wishes then to be warned (, but this without obligation. Thank you., Attribution,
  • Habitat: On cattle pastures, also in buildings
  • Diet: blood (females), plant juices (males)
  • Body length: 12 to 20 millimeters
  • External characteristics: green eyes, clear wings veined with brown, black abdomen with three rows of hairy yellowish spots

Gold-Eyed Flywheel (Chrysops relictus)

Source: Quartl, Chrysops relictus qtl1, edited from Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 3.0
  • Habitat: On pastures and in stables, widespread
  • Nutrition: Females suck blood from humans and animals, males plant juices
  • Body length: 9 to 13 millimeters
  • External characteristics: bright green eyes with violet spots, abdomen and wings markedly marked
  • Special features: stay on the skin for a long time before they sting

Horse fly (Tabanus sudeticus)

  • Habitat: on horse and cattle pastures, in stables
  • Diet: Blood, but also rotting plants
  • Body length: 19 to 25 millimeters
  • External characteristics: grey-brown colouring, brown abdomen with a white-yellow central triangle, brown eyes without a green sheen
  • Special features: largest European type of horsefly

True flies (Muscidae)

In Central Europe alone, the true fly family includes around 500 different species, whose common feature is the extremely fast reproduction rate. Most European fly species go through larval development within eight to 21 days, allowing up to eight (or more) generations per year. Many species are considered disease vectors.

Common Housefly (Musca domestica)

Source: USDAgov, Common house fly, Musca domestica, edited from Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0
  • Habitat: very common worldwide, found almost everywhere
  • Nutrition: human food, waste, excrement, manure
  • Body length: 7 to 9 millimeters
  • External characteristics: gray breast with four dark vertical stripes, dark abdomen with yellow lateral spots
  • Special features: immensely fast reaction speed, five times faster than humans

Autumn fly (also stable fly, Musca autumnalis)

Source: gailhampshire from Cradley, Malvern, UK, Musca autumnalis. - Flickr - gailhampshire, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0
  • Habitat: on pastures, in stables
  • Diet: feces (larvae); Nasal secretions, saliva, blood and tears from animals (female stable flies), plant saps (males)
  • Body length: 5 to 7 millimeters
  • External characteristics: abdomen yellowish with stripes in males, black with white-grey dusting in females, both sexes have white dusted breasts
  • Special features: adult animals hibernate, often transmit diseases

Cattle fly (Mesembrina meridiana)

  • Habitat: Cattle and horse pastures
  • Diet: Larvae live in cattle and horse dung
  • Body length: 9 to 13 millimeters
  • External characteristics: glossy black, orange wing base
  • Special features: Larval development completed within a week

Flesh flies (Sarcophagidae)

In Germany there are about ten different species of flesh flies. The larvae of this fly family often live as predators or on carrion, some also live parasitically on mostly invertebrates.

Gray flesh fly (Sarcophaga carnaria)

  • Habitat: Commonly found, including in apartments
  • Diet: Larvae feed on carrion, eggs are laid in exposed flesh
  • Body length: 10 to 18 millimeters
  • External characteristics: dark gray front body with white vertical stripes, dark and silver-grey abdomen patterned
  • Specialties: Larvae are used in forensic medicine to determine the time of death of a corpse

Miner flies (Agromyzidae)

Around 350 different species of tiny leaf miners are native to Germany. These live mostly on plant juices, which they get by piercing leaves. Leaf miners also belong to this fly family.

Notice: Leaf miners are often feared garden pests. Of course, you can fight them with parasitic wasps, such as Dacnusa sibirica and Diglyphus isaea.

Leek leafminer (Phytomyza gymnostoma)

Afro-Brazilian, Phytomyza sp. 03 edited by Plantopedia, CC BY-SA 4.0
  • Habitat: Gardens and vegetable fields with leeks (leek)
  • Nutrition: Leek (Leek)
  • Body length: 3 to 3.5 millimeters
  • External characteristics: yellow head, black back dusted with dull gray, black-brown abdomen edged with yellow
  • Special features: frequent vegetable pest

Tomato leaf miner (Liriomyza bryoniae)

Source: Katja Schulz from Washington, D.C., USA, Leafminer Fly (34343046680), edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0
  • Habitat: in gardens and greenhouses
  • Diet: various types of plants, including tomatoes
  • Body length: 1.5 to 2.3 millimeters
  • External markings: black back with yellow sides, yellow label, yellow forehead, black ocelli spot

Caterpillar flies (Tachinidae)

Caterpillar flies do not bear their name without reason, because their larvae live parasitically in the larvae, pupae or adult insects. Mainly butterfly caterpillars, but also plant wasps, beetles, bugs and other species are attacked.

Blue-green Caterpillar Fly (Gymnocheta viridis)

Source: S. Rae from Scotland, UK, Gymnocheta viridis - Flickr - S. Rae, edited by Plantopedia, CC BY 2.0
  • Habitat: wherever moths (Erebidae and Noctuidae) occur
  • Diet: Owl moth caterpillars
  • Body length: 6 to 11 millimeters
  • External characteristics: shiny metallic blue-green, abdomen heavily bristled
  • Special features: Flight time between April and June

Greater Caterpillar Fly (Tachina grossa)

  • Habitat: Heath areas and sparse forests
  • Diet: Oak moth caterpillars and other large caterpillars
  • Body length: 15 to 19 millimeters
  • External characteristics: dense, black body hair, head with yellow hair
  • Special features: largest European caterpillar fly

hedgehog fly (Tachina fera)

  • Habitat: Forest edges and clearings
  • Diet: Caterpillars of the gypsy moth, pine owl and nun
  • Body length: 9 to 14 millimeters
  • External characteristics: brown basic coloration, brown to yellowish spots on the heavily bristled abdomen
  • Special features: relatively common

Blowflies (Calliphoridae)

There are around 45 different bluebottles in Germany. This species of fly is attracted to odorous organic materials, hence its name. Bluebottles are usually metallic blue or green in color.

Maggot goldfly (Lucilia sericata)

  • Habitat: close to humans
  • Diet: Carrion, but also nectar and pollen
  • Body length: 5 to 11 millimeters
  • External characteristics: metallic gold-green
  • Special features: often used in forensics

Dead Fly (Cynomya mortuorum)

  • Habitat: widespread
  • Diet: carrion, feces
  • Body length: 8 to 15 millimeters
  • External characteristics: shiny green-blue abdomen, striking red cheeks
  • Special features: Flight time between May and September

frequently asked Questions

Do hoverflies also belong to the flies?

Although many hoverflies look very similar to wasps and other defensive hymenoptera, they actually belong to the flies. Despite their appearance, hoverflies are completely harmless and only feed on nectar and pollen.

What about fruit flies?

In common parlance, the drill flies presented here are referred to as "fruit flies", as is the family of fruit flies (Drosophilidae). The latter are also given names such as fruit flies or vinegar flies, as they are primarily attracted by the smell of rotting or overripe fruit. Fruit flies are a very common group of species whose representatives usually only grow to a size of one to two millimeters.

What are predator flies?

Robber flies are different species of flies that actively hunt and prey on other insects. Preferred prey include wasps, bees, bumblebees, beetles and even spiders. Common species groups are the killer flies, the hawk flies and the wolf flies.

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