They get in the trash, they pile up in the sewage and the corpses, they spit everything out, they're covered in bacteria and garbage germs (literal) they like to land on, and then they walk with their dirty little feet. about your food Flies are super gross.
But they can be even worse than that. According to new research, it is possible that they carry all kinds of pathogens and scatter them through their filthy little bodies, more specifically, their small and dirty legs.
The role of insects in the propagation of pathogens and infectious diseases is well known, not in vain have they been called "germs with legs". However, it was only 50 years ago that the evidence was inconclusive.
Now, researchers at Eberly College of Science at Penn State have led a study that adds to a growing body of evidence. By examining the microbes that flies carry in different parts of their bodies, the study provides an idea of the magnitude of the extreme filth of the flies.
They studied the microbiomes of 116 flies and midges from three different continents, and what they found was really scrawny. Some flies transported hundreds of different species of bacteria, many of which are harmful to humans, transmitting them to the surfaces where they land, mainly through their legs.
"The legs and wings show the greatest microbial diversity in the fly's body, suggesting that bacteria use flies as aerial shuttles," said Stephan Schuster, a former professor of biochemistry and molecular biology at Penn State.
"It is possible for bacteria to survive their journey, growing and expanding on a new surface, the study shows that each step of hundreds taken by a fly leaves a microbial colony track, if the new surface supports bacterial growth" .
Researchers found more pathogens in flies collected in heavy human urban environments than those found in stables. They also found 15 cases of a human pathogen called Helicobacter pylori that causes intestinal ulcers, mainly in flies collected in Brazil.
Most likely, flies will collect the bacteria from open sewage or latrines, the researchers noted.
These findings suggest that flies carry more pathogens when they are around more people.
"We believe that this can mechanism for the transmission of pathogens that has been ignored by public health officials, and flies can contribute to the rapid transmission of pathogens in outbreak situations," said Pennsylvania biochemist Donald Bryant.
"It will really make you think twice before eating that salad potato that has been out at your next picnic, it might be better to have that picnic in the forest, away from urban environments, not in a central park."
While this information may increase your aversion to flies, there may be ways in which scientists can take advantage of insect-filled bodies of bacteria.
Fly sampling microbiomes, for example, could help study the microbial content of environments that would otherwise be difficult to reach.
Is it a good compensation? It's hard to say, but there has to be some kind of light beam for the filthy flying thimbles.
The research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports .