The Purpose of Flies and Art of the Fly


There are so many kinds of flies in the Order of Diptera it would make your head spin, 157,000 species (12% of the planetary biota). I found a few in my garden in the last two posts and here are a few more. Mostly, the images are Green Bottle Flies, but boy are they busy in the garden.

This fly, Sarcophaga, is a pretty one with the checkered abdomen.


Ok, maybe not pretty, but interesting anyway.


Lotsa Little Part 1

Lotsa Little Part 2

BigFlyBig fat fly.

Did you know that mosquitoes are actually flies? But as much as flies are despised and unwanted, they do serve an ecological purpose like everything on this planet.


Here I photographed the flies in an artful manner, but this is certainly not their strong point. In fact, flies could use a good PR firm. I know it really is a stretch to think of flies as something of beauty, but like so many other insects, they can be something of which to capture attention. Unfortunately for the reputation of the fly, that attention is associated with death, disease, and decay – clearly warranting an image overhaul.


Lucilia sericata

Nature does not look at the fly as anything less than necessary.

From the maggots that break down organic matter in garbage, to pollination of our flowers and crops, the fly fills a niche in the ecosystem. Adult flies act to recycle when they feed on decaying waste such as dung and dead animals.


They themselves are a food source for birds, spiders and other insects, an important link in the food chain. Flies have a huge protein content surpassing that of many other foods, so bon appetit! The lowly mosquito larvae is a nutrient-packed morsel for fish and other pond life too.

Dolichopodidae_Fly _Maybe

Long-legged Fly


When one looks closer, the questions volley like, “What good do they serve.”


As spreaders of disease and pestilence they certainly have plagued mankind through the ages. So another niche flies could unwittingly fill is that of keeping populations within reason, unfortunately. Vectors of disease, they can certainly transport it far and wide.


When I was out photographing the prettier insects, I had a double take at the common fly. What I really took note of was how much the flies aid in pollination. They are very busy garden workers.



Common Green Bottle Fly

Breaking down dead organic matter, flies can help to make rich topsoil in which our plants grow, so in a way, they contribute to the gardens we tend!


On the other hand, while some play this role in a natural ecosystem, Houseflies are a bit different. Musca domestica has adapted to living off food and waste surrounding humans, so that kinda makes the House Fly a bit of a nuisance.


I am not saying put away the swatters, but God did put these insects here for a reason, and they are just out doing their job, pest or not.


I hate horseflies and having had horses most of my life, I can say emphatically, “I HATE HORSEFLIES.”



This may be a Ginger Bee, but I did have an entomologist tell me otherwise. So I titled the image Bombyliidae, which sounds like a bumblebee, but really is a fly, a bee fly.

They are the largest of the family Diptera, having over 5,000 species described worldwide. Any wonder why it is hard to get the names right? Even the pros sometimes need to see the flies under a scope they look so similar.



I know flies are a nuisance at your family picnic, but they have value we might not live without.  Pretty, well that is in the eye of the beholder.

About Garden Walk Garden Talk

I love to photograph, paint, draw, design, garden, travel the world, and pass on a few tips and ideas that I learned through experience as a Master Gardener and architect. I am highly trained in my field and enjoy my work each and every day. I garden in Niagara Falls, NY in zone 6-B. Find me at:
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34 Responses to The Purpose of Flies and Art of the Fly

  1. Very interesting post and great captures.

  2. I hate horseflies, too. Their bites hurt! Your pollinator shots are the best I’ve ever seen, Donna. Truly stunning!

  3. Coco Di says:

    I hate flies, they’re annoying and disgusting but look what you’ve done! You made them beautiful creatures through your skillful shots. Good job!

  4. I cannot believe I am going to say this, but you made me see the beauty in a FLY of all things. Wow. Who knew that a common fly could be so colorful and beautiful. Once again, never cease to be amazed at your photography!!!

  5. I agree with you about horse flies. Those bites HURT!

  6. Hope says:

    I’m jealous 🙂 What photography!

  7. I never thought I’d actually come to feel sympathetic with these creatures, but then, I should have expected it when you are involved! Amazing photography and information, Donna!

  8. thank you for a great post, beautiful photographs too 🙂 *Brigid

  9. Reblogged this on aristonorganic and commented:

  10. Andrea says:

    Hello Donna, haven’t talked or heard from you for a long time! This post is so special, you might be one of the very few who can make those flies so useful and beautiful, literally. We have many fly species too and we are the same in treating the flies. Personally, they scare me specially when i see maggots, OMG they yuck! But i was laughing all along while reading your post. The Dipterans will erect a monument for you!

  11. What a great post, you have captured some stunning fly shots, they really are beautiful and yes we all need to be reminded they are part of the ecology. Some of these species are so fascinating structurally close-up too.Yep we hate horseflies too but I love hoverflies and I do like the beauty of the green and blue bottle too; that irridescence is only perfected with nature.
    Lol@Andrea; re a monument, yes they should you’ve made them into a species of beauty, up there with the butterflies and ladybirds. Another fab post. X

  12. Wow, your photos are amazing. If someone had said to me flies are are beautiful, I’m afraid I would have laughed in their face. You captured beauty! You’ve given me a whole new perspective on flies. I still don’t like being around them but I will grant that they do serve a meaningful purpose!

  13. Pat says:

    Wonderfully photographed post reminding us that everything in nature has its place.

  14. Hmmm, I guess if we humans were cleaner we would not have houseflies to complain about, then. However, this was a very positive overview of a really revolting creature that, yes, it is hard to see as useful!

  15. Les says:

    Thanks for reminding us that all things have purpose, but it doesn’t hurt that some flies are prettier than others.

  16. Flies: the good, the bad, and the ugly

  17. Love those flies. When a mosquito is biting me, I will try to keep in mind where humankind would be without bugs.

  18. boredlandia says:

    I didn’t think I’d ever learn so much about flies but I actually loved this post!!! You are a beautiful artist at capturing them in such a manner. I think you are the perfect PR Firm they need!

    Great blog!

  19. b-a-g says:

    Outstanding photos. The flies look so clean and shiny considering what they wallow in.
    Good to know that my blood in the mosquito adds to its protein content.

  20. There is certainly nothing common about flies and there are so many…I enjoy watching them pollinate and the bee fly is a stunner in the garden. Nice to see us sing their praises a bit!

  21. A.M.B. says:

    Yes, flies could really use a good PR firm, but you’re doing a pretty good job with these pictures and this post (well, apart from the whole “spreaders of disease and pestilence” bit! ;)).

  22. Brian Comeau says:

    Beautiful when they are viewed up close like this.

  23. ginnietom says:

    re No 1: …what a beautiful bluebottle fastback …:-D gr8 shots ^^
    have a great monday…
    greets werner

  24. Mac says:

    I saw the title and thought flies, really?
    Interesting post and amazing photos!

  25. catmint says:

    I think they are beautiful creatures, although it is hard to love the common blowfly, and especially the horsefly – that’s the one that’s aggressive and bites, isn’t it? There’s one here we call March fly because it appears in March – not a good month to go swimming on some beaches. It bites you through your clothes. I adore the photos, Donna.

  26. Shannon H. says:

    Very thought provoking with great photography. I’ll never look at a fly the same way again!

  27. I will repeat some comments: I don’t like flies, but the photos are super!

  28. debsgarden says:

    Your photos reveal that up close the flies are beautiful. No doubt, if their behavior were different, everyone would be talking about the lovely flies! I agree heartily that every creature has a purpose, though we may turn up our noses at some of their jobs.

  29. Wonderful post and beautiful photos! You might enjoy a book called “The Voice of the Infinite in the Small: Revisioning the Insect-Human Connection” by Joanne Elizabeth Lauck 🙂

  30. Denise says:

    You make flies look so beautiful Donna. But you can’t make me love them.

  31. Fergiemoto says:

    Your macro shots are amazing! No, I did not know that mosquitoes were also flies, and I also hate horseflies. Good information here, as usual.

  32. These are spectacular photos! I’m really in awe. These are special. And, like several others above, I am a fly-hater. I can’t say that you’ve turned me from phobic to philic, but I’ll definitely take a moment to remember how beautiful they can be before swatting them away.

  33. sharonftaylor says:

    Only you Donna could make us have sympathy for a fly!

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