Role of Fly Cleaning Behavior on Carriage of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa

B. J. Jacques, T. J. Bourret, J. J. Shaffer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Flies are known to be mechanical vectors of bacterial, viral, and parasitic diseases. Although flies are known to transmit disease, the effects of cleaning behavior have not been well studied. This study quantified the cleaning effectiveness and behavior of three fly species: Sarcophaga bullata, Musca domestica L., and Drosophila virilis. Flies were transferred to plates of Escherichia coli or Pseudomonas aeruginosa and allowed to walk on the bacteria for a total of 5 min. After the flies were contaminated, they were either immediately collected to quantify bacteria or were placed onto sterile plates to clean for 5 or 10 min. After cleaning, flies were placed into tubes with 1 ml of sterile 0.85% saline and were gently shaken for 1 min to remove bacteria. A serial dilution was made and 50-ml spot titers were plated. Cleaning behavior was also monitored and scored for a period of 5 min. Results demonstrate a bacterial reduction for both bacteria on all three fly species. Sarcophaga bullata and D. virilis both showed a significant reduction of both bacteria within 10 min, whereas M. domestica only showed a significant reduction in P. aeruginosa. Cleaning behavior increased significantly in flies that were exposed to bacteria compared to flies that were not exposed to bacteria. This study is important, as it demonstrates that fly cleaning could affect mechanical transmission of disease, and additional studies should look at flies’ abilities to remove other types of microorganisms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1712-1717
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of medical entomology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1 2017


  • Cleaning behavior
  • Drosophila virilis
  • Mechanical vector
  • Musca domestica
  • Sarcophaga bullata

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Parasitology
  • General Veterinary
  • Insect Science
  • Infectious Diseases


Dive into the research topics of 'Role of Fly Cleaning Behavior on Carriage of Escherichia coli and Pseudomonas aeruginosa'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this