Some types of flies such as the common house fly are found across North America. A small number of these flies can be confused with ants.
Coloring is one of the main reasons flies are confused with ants. Dark brown and black coloring and reduced size make some flies appear similar to ants.
What do ants look like?
Ants can be winged or wingless. Winged ants are most commonly seen as ants.
The shape of some flies might also make some misidentify the species.
Ants have dark brown, red, and black coloring
Most ants are brown, red-brown, or black. Rare types of ants are yellow or tan.
You can find many types of flies around the house that have similar coloring.
Ants grow up to a size of 25mm
Ants grow to a size of up to 25mm. Most are smaller in the range of 4-10mm. Flies are often consumed with larger ants plus biting midges, which are smaller in size.
1 Cheese flies (Piophila casei)
Cheese flies are among the few types of flies with sculptured body that resembles the sculptured body of ants.
A very narrow (thread-like) waist is specific to ants, but not flies, except cheese flies.
Furthermore, these flies also have a dark brown to black coloring which makes them even more similar to ants.
As their name implies, cheese ants are common species that feed on cheese and meats.
These flies are found in the pantry and around the kitchen as pests. They’re also found on carcasses.
Cheese flies are used in forensics to estimate the time of death as they only appear on human corpses a few months after their death.
Flies of this genus are among the species that can be highly detrimental to humans through food contamination.
These flies lay eggs in cheeses and meats. People may eat these foods which means they also eat the larvae of cheese flies.
Symptoms such as diarrhea are common following the ingestion of contaminated foods.
2 Stone fly nymphs (Plecoptera sp.)
Stone flies resemble ants through coloring and shape. Most stone flies are winged but some species are wingless.
Some flies are mostly winged and resemble flying ants.
However, stone fly nymphs such as golden stone fly nymphs are wingless.
These nymphs have a yellow ventral color and a brown to yellow dorsal color. An elongated body, long legs, and long tails characterize the species.
One of the simplest ways to tell the difference between stone fly nymphs and ants is by these long tails.
Native to North America, Golden Stone fly nymphs are very similar to many other stone fly nymphs.
They are mostly aquatic and are found next to ponds and streams.
These nymphs only live in properly oxygenated water. Upstream locations are among its favorites.
Clean water, in general, is one of the required habitats attributed to the survival of this species.
3 Small dung flies (Sphaeroceridae sp.)
These small flies represent tiny species that have brown coloring and transparent wings.
There are thousands of species of small dung flies but they all share an interest in organic matter, decaying organic matter, dung, and corpses.
Their larvae grow quickly either in decaying organic material or in fungi.
Flies of this type can lay so many eggs in drains that they completely block drains.
Reduced body size and dark brown coloring with a shiny exoskeleton are what make these species resemble some types of ants.
These flies have 6 legs, long transparent wings, a brown body, and a brown head.
Most small dung flies make their way indoors through plumbing.
They are found in the kitchen sink drain where they use decaying foods as habitats to lay eggs in.
One of the only true management methods involves proper home cleaning and storing foods away in containers.
4 Toxomerus boscii
This species of flies are often compared to ants or to wasps. It has brown and black coloring.
A banded abdomen is what makes it resemble the bands seen on carpenter ants and on some velvet ants.
This species has long transparent wings and a black upper body.
Seen on various flowers, Toxomerus boscii is a species that may also appear in a banded upper body morph.
5 Biting midges (Ceratopogonidae sp)
Biting midges are also known as no-see-ums. Common Ceratopogonid males have a dark brown to the black body which resembles the bodies of ants.
These males have long antennae and long transparent wings.
Biting midges are so small they can sometimes make their way indoors through the window mesh screen.
Similar in size to ants, male flies are known to feed on pollen and nectar. Some species biting midges can feed on other foods.
Female biting midges feed on the blood of humans and animals. Some females may also feed on fungi.
Moisture, decaying organic materials, and food serve as habitats for laying eggs for the species.
Since these flies can bite it’s best to stay away from them and kill them with insecticide or fly spray. They can spread diseases such as the bluetongue disease.
6 Black flies (Simulium spp)
It’s estimated there are almost 2.000 species of black flies around the world.
These small flies are known for feeding with nectar (males) and mammal blood (females).
They are mostly known for spreading diseases such as river blindness.
Almost all black flies use rivers and streams to survive. They lay eggs on rocks and these eggs later hatch into larvae and start feeding on bacteria and other organic compounds water brings.
Black flies are known to develop underwater. They spend their first life stages (egg and larvae) underwater later pupating into adulthood and surfacing on top of the water.