How long will a housefly live without food or water?

Lately there have been a few houseflies buzzing around and bugging me (bad pun of course intended). At lunch 2 big ones were beating against the screen in the kitchen window. So I closed the window and trapped them.

They have no food and if it doesn’t rain will have no access to water. How long will they live?

I understand that houseflies have a lifespan of 2-4 days, but I assume that’s under circumstances where they can eat and drink.

More like 2-3 weeks cite, but don’t know about the food and water bit. Report back.

Dying of hunger or thirst is a bad way to go. Kill em, or set em free.

All winter, and they wake up in the window frame when the warm spring sun shines in.

Well, for organisms capable of experiencing pain and suffering it is. Are insects capable of feeling negative sensations that we humans associate with hunger and thirst?

I’m pretty confident that insects are incapable of attaining conscious awareness of being deprived of food and water, understanding the likelihood of impending debility and death as a result, or experiencing emotional stress caused by such realizations.

Easy for you to say.

But I am with the Respect for all Things camp.

The space may look, to you, to be devoid of food and/or water.
A fly sees things on an entirely different plane. To them, the space may well look like 1000 acres with forests, orchards, and lakes.

Let us know the results of your experiment.

Excellent point.

That anthropomorphizing can get you into trouble.

They last at most a day and a half when stuck to flypaper. The big ones, with some reserves. Smaller ones a lot less.

Well, yeah, it is easy for me to say that houseflies don’t have conscious awareness or rational understanding of food deprivation and imminent death, or emotional stress caused by such awareness, because it’s scientific fact.

Suit yourself, but your personal choice tells us nothing about whether a housefly actually experiences suffering when starving to death. As you yourself noted, anthropomorphizing the experiences of non-human animals based on how humans would feel in similar situations is not a reliable guide.

But as you explained to us a few years ago, it’s not just hunger and thirst that they’re dealing with when stuck to flypaper.

Of course you’re right about the 2-4 weeks bit. I think I was confusing their lifespan with that of some other fly.

As of this morning, the flies in the window are still active.

If I could figure out how to kill them without letting them back in the house or spraying poison from outside the house into the window, I would.

I think though that my empathy for whatever pain they are experiencing is probably about equal to whatever empathy they’d feel if the germs they spread caused someone in my household to get sick.

How long could Jeff Goldblum live without food or water?

I can’t say I’ve ever given this much thought before*–and the thinking here is not really pleasant–but the death mechanisms may not be comparable.

Mice on glue traps die horribly some times from trying to extricate themselves; similarly, the energy expenditure of a fly who presumably is not just sitting there composing his thoughts.

*Probably should be default plug-in for 90% of my GQ posts.

Open the screen and they will fly out – where they want to go. All creatures can feel pain. (I read that somewhere a few years ago. They have pain nerve endings.)

But the OP can’t open the screen without first opening the window, which gives the flies access to the kitchen, which she doesn’t want.

Assuming the screen is accessible from outside the house without an intervening pane of glass which you can’t open, you could zap the flies with a spray of strong detergent solution, which isn’t a “poison” as far as humans are concerned (unless they’re immersed in it or something similar).

Of course, Death By Soap is not pleasant and your conscience would have to deal with the brief but poignant demise of the flies.

I speak as someone who dislikes accidentally trapping moths between the storm door and inner door when they fly in as I enter or exit at night, and takes pains to release them.

Flies were dead on Saturday morning. They may have been dead Friday evening – I didn’t hear them buzzing but didn’t really check. So they lived 30 to 40 hours.

Of course I have no way of knowing how old they were when captured – they could have been quite geriatric.

I am happy for your loss.

I seem to remember he died pretty quickly after eating that shotgun shell.