The Secret Life of Flies

Enter a hidden world of snail killers, silly names and dangerous daily life in The Secret Life of Flies. Entomologist Erica McAlister dispels many common misconceptions and reveals how truly amazing, exotic and important these creatures are.


McAlister describes the different types of fly, their unique and often unusual characteristics, and the unpredictable nature of their daily life.


She discovers flies without wings, rotating genitalia and the terrible hairy fly, while pausing on the way to consider today’s key issues of conservation, taxonomy, forensic entomology and climate change. 



“What really makes the book so engrossing is the weird and — let’s be frank — occasionally horrifying behaviours that flies exhibit. There are flies that can eat raw oil and asphalt; others that can survive under the sea, or 5,700 feet down at the bottom of Lake Baikal; and there are even flies in Antarctica, where a quarter-inch midge represents the largest terrestrial animal on the entire continent… The most compelling parts of McAlister’s book are gruesome tales… after reading her book it is obvious: flies rock.”

The Spectator


“That flies have secret lives will come as no surprise… And yet among them are marvels of peculiar form and bizarre behaviour. I would love to find antler flies sparring; or a bat fly ‘swimming’ through the fur of its host; or a giant Texan robberfly feeding on a hummingbird. Instead, if I can keep up with Erica’s infectious verve, I will vicariously drink down her rich enthusiasm. I’ll need a tough stomach, though.”

Book of the month, BBC Wildlife

  • by Erica McAlister
  • published in association with the Natural History Museum
  • fascinating stories, adventures and science from the world of flies
  • paperback
  • 248 pages
  • 19.5 x 13cm 
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