What Happens When A Fly Lands On Your Food?
Have you ever wondered what a fly is doing when it lands on your food? Laci did some research to figure out.
[Warning: You probably shouldn't watch this video while eating.]
A recent survey asked participants: "if you were at a restaurant, which critter would make you drop your fork: Rodents, cockroaches, flies, ants, or snakes?" 61% chose cockroaches. But scientists warn that flies are actually two-times more likely to spread germs - specifically those ubiquitous, hard-to-swat houseflies.
So what's the science behind this? Well, flies eat some of the grossest things imaginable: Poop, garbage, rotting animal carcasses. Another fact about flies is that they can't chew, so in order to eat, they spit-up enzymes onto their food, which dissolves it and lets them slurp it up.
Even though it's probably the grossest thing imaginable, it's actually the bacteria and viruses that get stuck to their body that spreads disease and makes people sick, not their enzymatic spit-up. They only need to touch your food for a second for their legs or the tiny hairs all over their bodies to transfer germs from all those nasty things they eat onto what you're eating. And since flies can transfer serious, contagious diseases like cholera, dysentery, and typhoid, it's probably best if you avoiding eating things that a fly lands on.
Are you the type of person who throws out your food if a fly lands on it? Have you become one after watching this video? Let us know in the comments section below because we'd love to hear from you.
VIEW PHOTOS: Faces of Bees, Flies and Friends
The U.S. Geological Survey is posting photos of insects on its Flickr page, offering a macro look at this hidden world. First up, this Festive Tiger Beetle (Cicindela scutellaris) was found on top of a butte in Badlands National Park that had ancient windblown sand at its crest. Here, this sand specialist can build its long burrows.
This Agapostemon bee species is one of the most common native bees in the eastern United States. In almost any field there can be hundreds, if not thousands, of these bees visiting a wide variety of blooming plants. One of the largest of the sweat bees, it still goes undetected if you don't get down on your knees, face close, among the flowers. This one was collected at Colorado National Monument, Mesa County, Colo.
This wild bee (Hoplitis fulgida), a female from Grand Tetons National Park, was collected as part of a study of climate change. Most species in this genus are black , but a few, like this one, are as the Latin in name implies, glittering jewels.
This unknown wasp was collected in Cecil County, Md.
This is an unknown species of Robber Fly from Charles County, Md. Robber flies, a very large and widespread type of fly, feed on many different kinds of insects, making them a key player in maintaining the insect balance in different environments.
One species of the rarely seen leafcutting bee, this is Megachile integrella from the sandhills of North Carolina. Leafcutter bees are so called because they cut plant leaves to create the cells in their nests. The bees tend to build their homes in rotted wood or in the strong stems of plants.
Phidippus clarus is a type of jumping spider. This one was found in Beltsville, Md., but Phidippus clarus lives in fields and prairies across North America. It feeds on seasonal plants.
Eggplant Tortoise Beetles like eggplants (go figure), eating holes in the plants' leaves. From the underside, the insects look quite queenly, with their ruffled collars. This one was gathered at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, in Anne Arundel County, Md.
The Karner blue butterfly, Lycaeides melissa samuelis, is endangered. Karner blue butterflies feed on nectar from many different types of flowers, but their larvae can survive on the leaves of only one specific plant, which has been decimated by habitat loss or change.
Deer flies like this one, despite their groovy eyes, deliver a ferocious bite. And no wonder: when the female bites (males don't bite), she lacerates the skin and when the blood flows, sponges it up with her mouth. There are over 110 species of deer fly.
Centris bees, like this one, make their homes in holes, either in trees or in the ground.
The biggest visual difference between damselflies and dragonflies are their wing positions when resting. Dragonflies hold their wings open, while damselflies close them above their backs. This Ebony Jewelwing Damselfly (Calopteryx maculata) was found on a Beltsville, Md. stream.